Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Here we go again

After the City of Chicago overturned its ill-conceived and executed ban on the sale of foie gras in 2008,  I thought that the battle to maintain the tiny American foie gras industry had taken a turn in our favor.

Apparently not.

The principal and most formidable institutional opponent of the industry, the Humane Society of the United States - also known by the asthma inducing acronym HSUS- merely changed its tactics by under emphasizing guerrilla actions and protests that only made their members and proxies look silly (at best) and like terrorists (in some instances they were). Instead, HSUS has been concentrating on legal challenges, not to the perfectly legal and humane animal husbandry practices that I witnessed at Hudson Valley Farms , but to tangential things like waste treatment operations.

HSUS even tried (and failed) to get Hudson Valley foie gras banned as unsafe in New York by claiming that it was an "adulterated" food.

Anyway, it turns out that even if HSUS with its annual budget of well over $100 million fails to win a single case against Hudson Valley the cumulative effect of having to spend and estimated $50,000 per month defending itself might put them out of business.

Look, if I never eat foie gras again,  I wouldn't care. I like the stuff but I could easily live without it. And I know that there are duck farms where animals have been routinely mistreated. But it makes me mad when a farm that takes the kind of care that I saw being delivered at Hudson Valley ends up having to pay for the abuses meted out by other farmers.

Here is a great, if depressing, piece by Thomas Rogers at Salon.com  on the troubles at Hudson Valley.

Last gasp for American foie gras? - Salon.com


adriana said...

So much for political correctness...

Kevin said...

I've been fighting my computer all day - why is no one concerned with computer-human abuse?! Nevertheless, I posted my thoughts here: http://seriouslygood.kdweeks.com/2009/12/people-for-ethical-treatment-of-farmers.html

I suspect I'm incorrect.

Tags said...

HSUS is shooting themselves in the foot. By showing all their cards to the well-financed attorneys of the agribehemoths who really pollute, they're giving them time to figure out how to counteract their litigation.

Also, discovery is a double-edged sword, especially for a group with terrorist connections.

Jessika said...

I've had to work hard just to wrap my brain around the word used "adulterated". I had never seen it used before. All means allowed in litigation is, to follows Tags lead, a double-edged sword. What courts deem fit for one end might also be the very one that harms them.

It seems that there are some issues concerning foods that needs to begin with a disclaimer on your own preferance. We've had a huge debate on what fish to eat, especially various white fleshed fish. Cod from the Baltic was a disaster, from this other sea more of a disaster whereas from here fairly ok. You end up with go with a fish that satisfies your moral convictions. The most simple thing to do in this case would be consumer activism. If people don't want american foie gras, don't eat american foie gras. But as I understand it any ban against the products will not make foreign (french etc) foie gras prohibited?
Not that people eat foie gras everyday, I don't eat it at all, but if you are for animal protection I'd think more in the lines of seeing this as a chance of enhancing and introducing care of the ducks rather than litigation.

Since the animal protection aspect is more now is long passed underfood, the quote that we can live with what we get with imports and the means under which production has taken place as long as it hasn't been done HERE. There are so many ways you can twist and twine the statement, I am happy I can let my huge list of questions on that single remark, just rest in its own strangeness.

Grumpy Misanthrope said...

If someone wanted to do the research, I believe it would be possible to show that the Humane Society of the United States isn't really all that interested in animal welfare. They are interested in money. They received millions in donations after Katrina and almost none of it went to help animals stranded or harmed by Katrina, even though that was what they were onstensibly gathering funds for. Pretty much the same with PETA.
I'm fairly sure there's a PETA kills animals episode in the Humane Society of the United States. If someone wanted to search for it.