Foie gras, microchip database resolutions to be put before AVMA delegates

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Foie gras and microchip databases are the subjects of two resolutions AVMA delegates are being asked to vote on when they gather in Washington, D.C., this July.

Resolution 1 states that force-feeding ducks and geese to make foie gras is an inhumane practice opposed by the AVMA. Resolution 2 says that while the AVMA supports the use of microchip registration databases to reunite animals and their owners, it opposes using the information for purposes of marketing or referrals.

The two resolutions were the only proposals submitted to the House of Delegates by the May 14 deadline. Other resolutions could still be introduced from the HOD floor while the body is in session, however.

Resolution 1 was submitted by petition and states the following:

Resolved, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes the practice of artificially force feeding ducks and geese to produce foie gras because of the adverse effects on the birds' health and welfare associated with this practice.

Foie gras, or "fatty liver," is a delicacy made from the livers of ducks and geese. Birds are force-fed mostly corn to induce lipidosis, which expands their livers to several times their normal size. Three U.S. farms produce foie gras; two are in New York and the other is in California.

When the first resolution was introduced in the HOD in 2004, many delegates admitted knowing little about the practice, so they referred the statement to the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee for study. In 2005, the AWC wrote a recommendation opposing mechanical force-feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras, which the Executive Board forwarded to the HOD as a resolution.

Following an extensive debate over the new resolution and the original resolution carried over from 2004, delegates defeated both proposals.

A new anti-foie-gras resolution was submitted to the HOD in 2006, but a large majority of delegates voted it down with little discussion.

This is the fourth consecutive session in which the House of Delegates has been asked to adopt an AVMA policy against the production practice, which is being phased out in California, where it will be illegal as of 2012. Sales of foie gras are banned in Chicago, although city aldermen were considering repealing the prohibition.

Resolution 2 was submitted by eight veterinary medical associations: Iowa, Colorado, Indiana, Florida, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. It states the following:

Resolved, that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) endorses the use of microchip registration databases strictly for reuniting animals and owners and opposes their use as a source for marketing or referrals of other products and services.

The resolution's background information states that animal owners who register their personal information with a microchip database have an expectation of privacy. Violations of that privacy could decrease the number of people who register microchip numbers. In addition, using microchip database information for marketing could give an unfair advantage to a limited number of businesses.

The petitioners noted that the AVMA policy on microchip standards does not address the issue of using the databases as a marketing tool.

At press time, the resolutions were on the Executive Board's May 31-June 2 agenda for possible recommendations to the HOD.