By Martin Banks - 19th October 2012
I invite everyone to sign Animal Equality's petition
Eight MEPs have called on the EU and its member states to "follow the example" of California and ban the production and sale of foie gras in Europe.
The demand comes after a conference in parliament earlier this week heard a robust defence of the foie gras sector from several prominent speakers, including French minister of agri-food industry, Guillaume Garot.
The conference, organised by French MEP Francoise Castex, was also attended by some regional presidents, and an expert who led a discussion on how Europe could avoid a foie gras ban.
On Wednesday, MEPs who had organised a 'counter' conference, branded foie gras as a "product being the result of real torture for animals".
They pointed to a report by the international animal rights organisation Animal Equality into the foie gras industry.
Animal Equality says the production of foie gras should be abolished, as it has been done in several countries.
They are: Argentina, Austria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Finland, Israel, Turkey, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, UK and most recently, in California.
The conference on Wednesday was promoted by Italian MEP Andrea Zanoni and attended by other deputies including Swedish Green Carl Schlyter, David Martin and Keith Taylor, both British MEPs.
Several non-governmental organisations supported the call for a ban.
Zanoni said the aim was to "raise awareness about the torture of thousands of ducks and geese on foie gras farms within five European countries".
These are Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Hungary and Spain.
In other member states, the farming of animals to produce foie gras is banned, but not the import or sale of the product.
Zanoni said, "With this conference we wanted to help European consumers to open their eyes and ask the European commission a law that prohibits this.
"I invite everyone to sign Animal Equality's petition and share their concerns.
"The consumers of this product have to know the agony these geese are forced to on farms."
The debate comes after a US judge recently ruled that the ban can remain in effect, while producers of the delicacy, made from the livers of force-fed ducks, challenge the constitutionality of the law.
California banned foie gras on July 1 in a move hailed by animal-rights activists, but it was denounced by the industry in France as a violation of international trade rules.
The ban on foie gras was originally signed into law in 2004 by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Enforcement was postponed for almost eight years to let producers find an alternative to force-feeding; however no substitute method has come to light.
The law bans force-feeding ducks or geese to make foie gras within California and bars sales of foie gras produced elsewhere "if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size".