Illegal Farming In The Eu: More Than 300,000 Europeans Demand Action

For Immediate Release:

3 March 2015


Hannah Levitt +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 235; [email protected]


Foie Gras Is Targeted as a Coalition of Organisations Delivers Petition to the Commission

Brussels – More than 300,000 Europeans have called for the European Commission to act to end the Wild West approach to the production of foie gras.

Members of European Parliament David Martin, Stefan Eck and Anja Hazekamp joined members of The Albert Schweitzer Foundation for Our Contemporaries, Compassion in World Farming, L214 and PETA UK at the European Commission today to call on the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker to take swift, meaningful action against foie gras farming in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Hungary and Spain.

The animal rights groups and MEP Eck met with the office of Vytenis Andriukaiti, the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, to deliver the petition and remind him that one of the animal welfare aims of the Commission during the period from 2012 to 2015 was to “take action to improve compliance”.

The law is simple: force-feeding, which scientific evidence shows causes unnecessary suffering and injury[1], is illegal. The Commission’s own directive prohibits “[providing] food or liquid in a manner … which may cause unnecessary suffering or injury”[2].

“The scientific consensus on force-feeding is crystal clear: it is cruel and should be banned. The EU’s own Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare concluded that force-feeding is detrimental to the welfare of the birds, and yet, 16 years later, birds are still suffering”, says PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi.

In addition, the Commission has been handed evidence that individual cages, which are illegal to use in the EU,[3] are still in use in France, Hungary and Spain, but to date, the Commission has taken no meaningful action to stop this.

Peter Stevenson, chief policy adviser at Compassion in World Farming, says: “We’ve given the Commission a wealth of scientific evidence, detailed briefings and formal complaints on the illegality of foie gras production. The response has been pathetic. Enough is enough. We need action now”.

“Foie gras production makes the list of the most egregious animal cruelties of our time, and it needs to be stopped”, says Mahi Klosterhalfen, CEO and president of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation in Germany.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations stated in 2002 that the production of foie gras “raises serious animal welfare issues and it is not a practice that is condoned by FAO”.

For the EU to protect its growing reputation for higher farmed-animal welfare standards, it urgently needs to address the issue of foie gras production.


Public Relations Officer for PETA UK

Hannah Levitt: [email protected]; +44 (0)207 8376327, ext 235

Media Relations for the Albert Schweitzer Foundation

Rieke Petter: [email protected]; +49 (0)30 400 54 68 15

Media Manager for Compassion in World Farming

Lara Richardson: [email protected]; +44 (0) 1483521995

Campaigner for L214

Johanne Mielcarek: [email protected]; +32 (0)493 428 172 / +33 (0)602 37 02 60

[1]Force-feeding clearly causes suffering and injury. In its 1998 report, the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare concluded that as a result of force-feeding, normal liver structure and function are “severely altered and compromised” and that insertion of the tube can result in inflammation of the bird’s neck as well as bruising and even perforation of the oesophagus and stressed that force-feeding, as currently practised, “is detrimental to the welfare of the birds”.

[2]Annex, Paragraph 14 of the Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes. 

[3]Council Directive 98/58 EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes of 20 July 1998. Point 7 of the Annex of the Directive states in the section titled “Freedom of movement”: “The freedom of movement of an animal, having regard to its species and in accordance with established experience and scientific knowledge, must not be restricted in such a way as to cause it unnecessary suffering or injury”