French MEP Francoise Castex has reportedly condemned California’s statewide ban on the production and sale of any product that is “the result of force-feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging its liver beyond normal size,” calling the prohibition on foie gras “a battle for Europe.” After a recent attempt by producers to enjoin the 2004 law failed in federal court, Castex convened a news conference in European Parliament where she eviscerated the legislation as “very negative” and a violation of international trade rules. “There are five member states where foie gras is produced, not just France,” she said, referring to Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Spain.
According to Castex, the foie gras sector comprises 30 percent of the local economy in her own region of France, which has already hired an attorney to represent the country in a legal challenge to the United States. Her remarks also drew support from French Junior Minister for the Food Industry Guillaume Garot, who described the delicacy as “a cornerstone” of French cuisine and the generator of 35,000 jobs. “It’s a bad idea that is not going to do anything,” he was quoted as saying. “We are talking about a whole food system that is really in trouble… I am here today to defend this industry and the jobs it supports. We badly need these jobs, particularly at the current time.” See The Parliament, October 16, 2012.
Meanwhile, eight additional MEPs have reportedly joined with Animal Equality, an international animal rights organization, in urging the European Union to institute its own ban on foie gras production, which is currently outlawed in 22 of the 27 member states. Led by MEP Andrea Zanoni, the group called an October 17, 2012, conference to advocate barring both the manufacture and importation of foie gras made from force-fed geese and ducks. “With this conference in the European Parliament we want to help European consumers to open their eyes and ask the European Commission [for] a law that prohibits this,” Zanoni told reporters. “I invite everyone to sign Animal Equality’s petition and share their investigation and videos.” See Animal Equality News Release, October 16, 2012; France24, October 18, 2012.