Belgian Rail Company Refuses Animal Rights Anti-Foie Gras Ads

Belgian railways company NMBS recently refused to allow Belgium’s Global Action in the Interest of Animals to take out these anti-foie gras ads,

An NMBS spokesman said that the railway refuses all political advertisements regardless of viewpoint.

On the one hand, this is a very clever ad. On the other hand, I’m not sure it would persuade many people one way or the other since it is a bit too clever — it leaves the viewer thinking “that’s a very clever ad” not “I wonder if foie gras is cruel?”

And Duval Guillaume, the agency that came up with the ad, certainly has an odd intent for it. According to Duval Guillaume’s Matthias Dubois,

Foie gras – or “fatty liver” – is still a very popular Christmas and year end dinner dish in Belgium. Because most people donÂ’t know itÂ’s made from the grotesquely enlarged livers of ducks and geese, the result of force-feeding.

I am extremely skeptical of that claim. I suspect most people who eat foie gras understand exactly what it is.


Refused anti-Foie gras ads — too shockings ays railway company. Adland, December 12, 2005.

Interview: Inside the Foie Gras. The Spunker, December 2005.

Massachusetts Activists Protest Geese Hunt at Golf Course

The Boston Globe reported that about 15 members of Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition showed up at the Braintree, Mass., municipal golf course to protest a decision by that city’s Board of Selectman allowing the shooting of Canadian geese to reduce the number that try to make the golf course home.

According to the Globe, the activists carried signs reading, “Stop the Slaughter” and “No Blood for Golf.” MARC member Jordan Gallagher told the Globe (emphasis added),

I love the geese. I know they go to the bathroom here and there, but there are other ways of removing them. When man has a problem today, whether it’s wolves, bears, or birds, the first thing they do is kill.

Maybe Gallagher’s got a point — perhaps instead of killing first, “man” should dispatch Gallagher to open diplomatic negotiations with the wolves and bears.

But lets consider his point about the geese going to the bathroom here and there. According to the Globe, as many as 100 to 400 geese show up on the golf course. Each of these geese, again according to the Globe, can produce anywhere from 1 to 3 pounds of feces each day.

Studies have shown that feces from Canadian geese pose a serious risk to human health. A 2002 study (PDF) of samples of Canadian geese fecal matter found that overall 25 percent of such samples contained pathogenic e. coli.

In the case of the Braintree golf course, the issue of diseases carried by the hundreds of pounds of geese feces is amplified because the golf course is part of a larger athletic field which regularly hosts sports programs for children.

As Charles Kokoros, chairman of the Braintree Board of Selectman, told the Globe,

It’s just way too many feces. It’s impossible to clean up and they spread disease. There are kids out there rolling in it, tackling in it. It isn’t healthy.

Which is why the Board has annually allowed the shooting of the geese annually since 1995.

But, in the typical animal rights formulation, to the activists this is an example of how human beings should put aside disease concerns in favor of the animals. MARC member Steve Rayshick told the Globe,

I think we need to recognize that these are wildlife and this is their habitat.

No, the golf course and athletic field are part of the human habitat; the animal rights activist just need to recognize that and accept the need to minimize the risk of disease in that habitat.


Prevalence of Escherichia coli serogroups and human virulence factors in faeces of urban Canada geese (Branta canadenses). (PDF) Kullas, H., et al, International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 12, 153-162 (2002).

Avian Diseases: Carriage of Bacterial Pathogens by Canada Geese and Blackbirds. USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services, Accessed: December 11, 2005.

In Braintree, activists protest goose hunt on golf course. Tracy Jan, Boston Globe, December 11, 2005.

AVMA Rejects Foie Gras Resolution

In July, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s House of Delegates unanimously rejected a proposed resolution condemning foie gras production. The rejected resolution read,

RESOLVED that the AVMA hereby opposes the practice of force feeding ducks and geese to produce foie gras.

In a press release, the AVMA said,

In their discussion, the HOD (House of Delegates) considered their obligations to animals, society, and veterinary medicine. However, because limited peer-reviewed, scientific information dealing with the animal welfare concerns associated with foie gras production is available, and because the observations and practical experience of HOD members indicate a minimum of adverse effects on the birds involved, the HOD did not support the resolution opposing force feeding used to produce foie gras.

“We’ve looked at the science and current production practices, and have found it is not necessary for the AVMA to take a position either for or against foie gras production at this time,” said Dr. Bonnie Beaver, AVMA President.


AVMA House of Delegates Defeats Foie Gras Resolution. Press Release, American Veterinary Medical Association, July 16, 2005.

Oregon Senate Considers Bill to Ban Foie Gras Sale, Production

The Oregon Senate is currently considering a bill that would ban the production and sale of foie gras in Oregon.

The bill’s language says that,

A person commits the crime of force-feeding
a bird if, for the purpose of causing the liver of the bird to
increase in size, the person:
(a) Force-feeds a bird; or
(b) Directs or authorizes an employee to force-feed a bird.

. . .

A person commits the crime of trading in
force-fed bird products if the person sells, offers for sale or
delivers one or more food products that the person knows to have
been produced in whole or in part by force-feeding a bird.

The Oregonian reported that animal rights activists believe the bill will pass in the Democrat-dominated Senate, and are working to try to convince the Republican-dominated House to consider the measure. The Oregonian quoted In Defense of Animals activist Matt Rossell as saying,

This is not a partisan issue. It’s about what we are willing to tolerate in this state in terms of animal cruelty.

Some Oregon restaurants and chefs, however, are calling the bill “extremist”. The Oregonian interviewed restaurant owner Pascal Sauton who said he added foie gras to his menu in November and sold about 200 orders. Sauton said that his customers “also appreciated that I stood up for people’s right to eat what they want.”

The full text of Oregon Senate Bill 861 can be read here.


Foie gras prohibition bill advances to Senate floor. The Oregonian, Michelle Cole, April 19, 2005.

Oregon SB 861 – Ban on Foie Gras Production

     73rd OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2005 Regular Session

NOTE:  Matter within  { +  braces and plus signs + } in an
amended section is new. Matter within  { -  braces and minus
signs - } is existing law to be omitted. New sections are within
 { +  braces and plus signs + } .

LC 2387


                         Senate Bill 861
                 Ordered by the Senate April 21
           Including Senate Amendments dated April 21

Sponsored by Senator VERGER; Senators BATES, GEORGE, SHIELDS,
  WHITSETT, Representatives HUNT, ROSENBAUM (at the request of
  Ted E. Keizer)


The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the
measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to
consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor's
brief statement of the essential features of the measure.

  Creates crime of force-feeding bird. Punishes by maximum $1,000
  Creates crime of trading in force-fed bird products. Punishes
by maximum fine of $1,000.

                        A BILL FOR AN ACT
Relating to the force-feeding of birds.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
  SECTION 1.  { + As used in sections 2 and 3 of this 2005 Act:
  (1) 'Bird' means a fowl grown for purposes of human
  (2) 'Force-feed' means to deliver food by:
  (a) Placing a tube or other device into the esophagus; or
  (b) Any other method used with the intent of causing ingestion
of an amount of food that exceeds the amount that would be
ingested voluntarily by a typical member of the same species. + }
  SECTION 2.  { + (1) A person commits the crime of force-feeding
a bird if, for the purpose of causing the liver of the bird to
increase in size, the person:
  (a) Force-feeds a bird; or
  (b) Directs or authorizes an employee to force-feed a bird.
  (2) The crime of force-feeding a bird is an unclassified
misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000. Each
force-feeding of a bird is a separate violation. + }
  SECTION 3.  { + (1) A person commits the crime of trading in
force-fed bird products if the person sells, offers for sale or
delivers one or more food products that the person knows to have
been produced in whole or in part by force-feeding a bird.
  (2) The crime of trading in force-fed bird products is an
unclassified misdemeanor punishable by a fine, not to exceed
$1,000. In the case of a continuing violation, each day the
violation continues is a separate offense. + }

Illinois Senate Passes Foie Gras Ban

In April, the Illinois Senate passed a bill banning the force feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras in the state. The bill passed 53-0, with 1 Senator voting present.

According to the text of the bill,

A person may not force feed a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size or hire another person to do so.

Anyone violating this proposed law could be fined $1,000 per day that the offense occurs.

When originally offered, the bill would have also banned the sale of foie gras produced outside of Illinois, but that provision was ultimately struck from the bill passed by the Senate.

The bill will now be taken up by the Illinois state House of Representatives.

The full text of Illinois’ proposed ban on foie gras production can be read here.