Foie gras: The European Commission turns a blind eye to French law-breakers!

For several years now, L214 has regularly informed the European Commission of the ways that the French and the other foie gras producing countries deliberately ignore the European laws concerning Animal welfare.

The law states :

  • No animal shall be provided with food [...] wich may cause unecessary suffering or injury,
  • It is forbidden to cage ducks in individual pens such that their movements are almost totally restricted.,
  • The animals must be provided with appropriate bedding material and sufficient space to flap their wings without difficulty.

In reality, it is the opposite of these minimal conditions which foie-gras producing ducks have to suffer.

Each year in France, due to the force-feeding techniques employed, around one million ducks die during this process. This shocking rate of mortality is up to 20x higher than ducks fed normally. No surprise then that the condition of force-fed ducks is considered pathological by the European Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare.

Concerning the housing conditions, the great majority of foie gras producers (60% in 2014) use individual cages which are forbidden in Europe since 2011.

Not only is France delaying its compliance with EU law, it also intends to continue to flout the law for decades into the future. New collective cages being progressively introduced in France still do not comply with European law requirements: none of these cages provide bedding material, nor sufficient space, despite being required by law.

The European Commission turns a blind eye on its own laws

For several years now, L214 communicates details of these infringements to the European Commission. In 2012, L214 and several international animal welfare organisations filed a formal complaint against both France and Hungary for for failing to comply with current EU regulations on the protection of animals in foie gras production. These lawsuits have remained without further action despite the body of evidence supporting the charges. The European Commission admits the facts as presented, but refuses to proceed in a way to force an end to the practice which causes the suffering of millions birds each year.

Should we content ourselves to learn that the Brussels authorities regularly ask the Producing countries for simple statistics rather than addressing the problem? This is what the European Commission seems to be hoping for!

L214, CIWF France, Peta and the Albert Schweitzer Foundation are united in launching a petition addressed to The Presidents of the European Commission and to the Agriculture Council. The law must be taken seriously!

Dear President and Minister,

Please, once and for all, will you take urgent action on illegal foie gras production in the EU:

  • Force feeding (which scientific evidence shows causes unnecessary suffering and injury) is incompatible with your own regulations which prohibit: “[providing] food or liquid in a manner [...] which may cause unnecessary suffering or injury”.
  • Individual cages are illegal but many are still in use. What is more, the group cages that are being used to replace them, in many instances, do not comply with the Council of Europe Recommendations for space and bedding.

It is unacceptable for the Commission to prevaricate while tens of millions of animals suffer illegally each year. Yet despite a wealth of evidence, formal complaints and countless hours of lobbying effort nothing has changed. So I am asking you personally, as Presidents of the Commission and EU Agriculture Council, to insist upon rapid action.

Yours sincerely