By JIM WASSERMAN
Associated Press Writer
September 30, 2004, 12:22 AM EDT
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California will end the force
feeding of ducks, geese and other birds to produce the gourmet liver
product foie gras by 2012 under legislation signed Wednesday by
Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger.
The bill will also ban the sale of foie gras in
California starting that same year if it's obtained by force feeding
Schwarzenegger, who received pleas from several
celebrities, including former Beatle Paul McCartney, to sign the bill,
said it gives producers more than seven years to "evolve and perfect a
humane way for a duck to consume grain to increase the size of
its liver through natural processes."
"If agricultural producers are successful in this
endeavor, the ban on foie gras sales and production in California will not
occur," he said in a statement.
Animal rights advocates called the governor's action "a
major victory for the ducks and geese."
The state's lone farm engaged in the practice, Sonoma
Foie Gras, also hailed it as a victory.
The company's president, Guillermo Gonzales, said his
farm would use the time before the ban is implemented "to
demonstrate that foie gras production is safe and
Advocates for the bill said the restrictions are needed
to stop an agricultural process in which birds are fed huge amounts of food
three times a day
through a tube inserted into their throats. The
practice enlarges the birds' livers up to 10 times their normal size before
they are slaughtered.
Foie gras -- French for "fat liver" -- is served in
about 300 restaurants in California, according to the California Restaurant
Association, which opposed the bill along with several major farm groups.
The bill's author, Senate President Pro Tem John
Burton, D-San Francisco, said several countries have already banned the
force feeding practice and the European Union is phasing it out.
Among other celebrities who supported the bill were
actors Martin Sheen, Kim Basinger, Alicia Silverstone
and Mary Tyler Moore.
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