In “No Ducking the Issue,” John Luik and Patrick Basham claim that “it is science behind foie gras production that provides the best way of disentangling the factual, emotional, and moral aspects of the debate.”
Science can indeed help… but certainly not if you make false statements about the scientific studies you cite to defend foie gras production, as these authors do.
1) The authors write that the “1998 report by the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare found “no evidence that intensive force feeding is stressful to the male hybrid duck.”
In fact, the full quote of the European report is: “This measure, therefore gives no evidence…” (see page 37). Interestingly, the report was discussing a study, which had been ordered and funded by… the French foie gras producers association (CIFOG).
The European report never stated that there is “no evidence that intensive force feeding is stressful to the male hybrid duck.” On the contrary, it reports, “When ducks or geese were in a pen during the force feeding procedure, they kept away from the person who would force feed them even though that person normally supplied them with food. At the end of the force feeding procedure, the birds were less well able to move and were usually panting but they still move away from or tried to move away from the person who had force fed them.” (page 34)
2) The authors write: “Although mortality rates are higher than in comparable ducks, the overall death rate is less than that for farm-raised chickens and turkeys.”
False again: they compare how many ducks die in the 12-day force-feeding period with how many chickens and turkeys die over several months! Refer to European report (page 47), and you’ll see that indeed the mortality rates during force-feeding “compare most unfavorably with mortality rates for ducks and geese during normal rearing”: it is 10 to 20 times higher.
All this explains why the European Report concludes: “The Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare concludes that force feeding, as currently practiced, is detrimental to the welfare of the birds.” (page 65).p>But this John Luik and Patrick Basham forgot to report about.
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