define( 'WP_DISABLE_FATAL_ERROR_HANDLER', true ); // 5.2 and later define( 'WP_DEBUG', true ); Foie Gras Ban? The World’s Ducks Are Scared! » Demian Repucci

Foie Gras Ban? The World’s Ducks Are Scared!

aflac-duck-1I just read the article, ‘Last Gasp For American Foie Gras?’ on Salon.  It seems as though the Humane Society of the United States has been going after New York’s Hudson Valley Foie Gras with lawsuits in an effort to bury the farm under fines and legal bills.  The Humane Society may insist that they are concerned only with the pollutant level elevations in 2006 but to any outside observer it seems clear that, since they have decided that the force-feeding of ducks  to produce foie gras is inhumane, they will do whatever it takes to shut down the operation.

I find this approach to addressing animal care to be unfortunate.  The article makes a good point that one outcome of the shuttering of American foie gras producers may be the influx of foreign foie gras of a less regulated variety.  Carefully monitored American producers are closed.  Unmonitored foreign producers grow because of increased business.  Protectionist-style trade debates ensue.  Everyone looses.  Especially the ducks.

I also find this issue to be curious on the part of the Humane Society.  It seems as though the foie gras producers may have been looked at as easy publicity targets for the Humane Society.  A good way to raise awareness and money.  But if they are for the humane treatment of all animals then why are they not raising a fuss over other, more public, animal cruelty?  The first thing that comes to my mind is the treatment of lobsters.  Why, on three recent occasions, have I seen live lobsters being ripped in half by hand, cut in half or split in two with chefs knives?  Where?  On Bravo’s Top Chef, Food Network’s Iron Chef and Chopped.  Not to mention all of the half-suffocated fish that get butchered while still alive.  How is any of this treatment not cruel?  Why pick one cause to pursue over another?  Is it that the Humane Society’s donors watch these shows?

My point is that it seems as though the Humane Society is not being equitable in their focus.  They have decided in their wisdom to zero in on foie gras producers, regardless of the oversight steps that have been taken.  And have neglected other areas where their attention may be more effective.  Especially those areas that might adversely effect their donors lifestyle.  Another thought that crosses my mind is that ducks are relatively cute and potentially cuddly.  Lobsters, crab and fish are pretty uniformly ‘not’.  O.k… maybe Nemo is cuddly… but you get my point.  Do we tend to project anthropomorphized feelings on to the animals we decide are worthy of protection?  Over others that we just can’t seem to identify with?   Of course people may say ‘fish and lobsters don’t have many nerves so can’t feel anything.’  Whatever.  They have some amount of nerves.  And they are getting cut in half.  So to propose that they don’t feel anything is a little strange. 

I am not suggesting a wider ban on practices deemed cruel.  Discerning what is cruel and what is ‘humane’ is a slippery slope.  I merely think that the Humane Society could take its own advice and use more humane tactics in protecting animals it deems worthy than the full court press ‘seige’ of mean-spirited lawsuits that it is using against Hudson Valley Foie Gras.  This process can only hurt everyone involved.  And it most probably puts the world’s ducks in greater danger too.  Maybe a ‘wide angle’ focus would be more appropriate than to zoom in on one well regulated producer.