The New York Times
June 29, 2005

To the Editor:

It’s true, animal advocates and ordinary people worldwide are giving a tough time to producers of foie gras (”Chances Fade for Foie Gras Bill,” June 15).

And here’s why:

Foie gras — fattened goose or duck liver — means filling ducks’ stomachs through footlong funnels three times a day. In the course of the monthlong stuffing schedule of nutrient-deficient corn and oil, a duck’s liver may swell to 10 times its normal size.

It is cruelty per se, according to government policy in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Britain and Poland. Israel, the world’s third largest producer of foie gras, phased out the practice in 18 months. The writing is on the wall.

In New York, State Senator Frank Padavan, a Republican from Queens, introduced a bill that would have phased out foie gras in a reasonable time, under a year. So, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, in Ferndale, N.Y., hired a lobbyist to promote a substitute bill. If the Senate decides to continue considering this new faux ban, they are talking about codifying the industry’s force-feeding practices for the next decade.

Thus, what some people believe is a genuine ban is really a gift to the duck owners. When California passed a similar law, California’s sole producer, Sonoma Foie Gras, hailed the law as a victory and thanked legislators for allowing it to remain in operation.

New York’s new, faux ban of foie gras came with a statement of intent that read, in part: “This legislation, if passed, would prohibit this cruel practice and prevent further abuse to animals in New York State.”

If it is “further abuse,” it would be logical, and legal, to end it now.

Susan Russell

Darien, Conn.

The writer is information director for Friends of Animals, an animal advocacy organization.