AVMA delegates voted July 24 to refer to the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee a resolution opposing the practice of force-feeding ducks and geese to produce foie gras—a delicacy made from the livers of those birds.
Foie gras is French for "fatty liver." Birds are force-fed mostly corn to expand their livers several times their normal size. Three farms in the United States produce foie gras—two are in New York and the other is in California.
In the background to Resolution 3, petitioners state that they oppose the practice because it adversely affects the birds' health and welfare.
They also mentioned that there is a considerable weight of scientific evidence, including a study described in the Report of the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare by a committee of the European Commission, to support that view.
Earlier, the House Advisory Committee recommended that the House of Delegates refer the resolution to the Animal Welfare Committee for study. The AVMA Executive Board recommended disapproval of the resolution.
But HOD Reference Committee 2, which handles public matters before the AVMA, recommended that delegates approve the statement.
During their deliberations, however, it became clear that delegates knew little about foie gras or how it is made.
Many of them objected to how the practice of foie gras deliberately causes liver disease in the birds. But a majority of delegates were uncomfortable passing the resolution without having more information.
Even though he has personal reservations about foie gras, Dr. Y. M. Saif, delegate for the American Association of Avian Pathologists, advocated—and the HOD agreed—to refer the matter to the Animal Welfare Committee for study.