Bill to Ban Foie Gras Approved by California Senate Panel

The California Senate’s Business and Professions Committee panel this week narrowly approved a bill that would ban the production and sale of foie gras in that state.

By a 4-3 vote*, the committee voted to move the bill to the Senate floor for consideration. Since the bill’s sponsor, John Burton (D-San Francisco), is widely viewed as one of the more powerful members of the California Senate, the fact that he could barely squeeze the bill through his own committee suggests that the bill’s chances before the full Senate are not good (much less making it through the House and obtaining Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature).

The bill as passed by the committee was amended to delay the proposed phase out of foie gras — the proposed ban would not go into effect until 2012.

Burton told the Associated Press that he didn’t believe that introducing the ban was not “in any way . . . validating or acquiescing to this illegal activity” by animal rights extremists who have engaged in acts of violence against Sonoma Foie Gras, California’s sole producer of foie gras.

The owners of Sonoma Foie Gras beg to differ, and on their web site accuse Burton of setting a dangerous precedent that has the effect of,

  • legitimizing the violence, terror, and negative propaganda campaign carried out by animal rights extremists
  • providing a viable entry-point to any minority wishing to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.

The full text of the proposed ban on foie gras can be read here.

* As an example of how poorly they frequently do their jobs, the Associated Press reported that the committee passed the bill by a vote of 4-1, while Reuters reported that the bill passed by a vote of 4-2. The California Senate web site’s roll call for the vote, however, confirms that the bill barely squeaked through on a 4-3 vote.


Lawmakers OK ban on force-feeding birds to make foie gras. Jennifer Coleman, Associated Press, April 26, 2004.

California moves to ban foie gras. Reuters, April 27, 2004.

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