Global Warmings Spring 2005

Photo By: Susan Ocean


"Chef Trotter has renounced foie gras, on ethical grounds. . . . another example of how far the animal-rights cause has come in from the fringe." – Lawrence Downes, New York Times Editorial, April 4, 2005

Foie gras production is turning more and more people away from the "gourmet" cruelty of force-feeding ducks and geese with steel pipes to manufacture diseased livers for human consumption. Celebrity chef Charlie Trotter says he stopped serving foie gras after watching ducks be tube-fed. Restaurants in Portland, Oregon and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - 10 in Pittsburgh! - have stopped serving foie gras thanks to activist pressure. Last year, California passed a law banning the production and sale of foie gras starting in 2012, and legislation banning foie gras is being considered in Oregon, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts.

Starting April 1, 2005, force-feeding ducks and geese became illegal in Israel. On March 31, 2005, the Israeli Supreme Court, which ruled in 2003 that force-feeding ducks and geese violates the Israeli Animal Welfare Act, refused to extend the delay in law enforcement requested by the Ministry of Agriculture. Anonymous for Animal Rights, a coalition of Israeli activists, managed the successful 6-year campaign to ban the force-feeding of ducks and geese in Israel.


In a paper presented in Nature Neuroscience Reviews (Feb. 2005, Vol. 6), scientists called for new words to describe the various parts of the bird brain in recognition of the "now overwhelming evidence" that birds' brains are complex organs that process information" in much the same way as the vaunted human cerebral cortex." In a letter published in The Washington Post (Feb. 12, 2005), UPC president Karen Davis wrote that the updated science is "deeply gratifying to those of us who spend our days with birds. We have been waiting to see scientific language and understanding catch up with the reality of bird intelligence. I spend my days with domestic chickens and turkeys, birds that have long been denigrated as stupid, despite ample evidence to the contrary. Just watch a hen calculate how to speed to her perch at night to avoid a certain attentive rooster in the way, and you know that a smart chick is looking out for her own interests."

What Can I Do?
  • Order the 16-min. video Delicacy of Despair, which shows how foie gras is produced. Available from UPC in DVD and VHS formats. And let people know that scientists no longer consider birds "primitive.” Birds are conscious individuals who use their brains, and have feelings, the same as humans. At a conference on animal sentience in March, hosted by Compassion in World Farming in England, Professor John Webster of Bristol University described an experiment with hens who quickly learned bad grains from good grains, henceforth avoiding the bad grains based on color recognition. Professor Webster said: "What this tells us is that the mother hen has learnt what food is good and what is bad for her, that she cares so much for her chicks she will not let them eat the bad food and she is passing on to her young what she has learnt. To me that is pretty close to culture - and an advanced one at that. Chickens are sentient creatures and have feelings of their own."The Times [London], March 16. Watch on YouTube.

    Order The Dignity, Beauty & Abuse of Chickens from UPC. Available in VHS and DVD. All UPC videos are $10 including shipping. Watch on Vimeo.