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French mayor’s foie gras ban prompts fury from farmers

A French mayor's decision to ban the controversial delicacy foie gras from official receptions has sparked a backlash from local producers.

A sign showing a goose outside a foie gras shop in a street near Strasbourg's Christmas market
Photo: Frederick Florin / AFP

The Green mayor of Strasbourg Jeanne Barseghian used her discretionary powers to remove foie gras from the menu of official events ‘in the name of animal welfare’ soon after she took office in 2020.

But her decision was not made public – and had gone unnoticed – until an article published in Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, a day before the city’s famous Christmas market was due to open to the public. 

Until then, “foie gras [had been] served sparingly, on canapés or sometimes as an appetiser at dinners,” according to officials at Strasbourg’s city hall.

The article was published after international animal welfare group Peta had sent the mayor a gift of a basket of ‘faux gras’ to thank her for her stance, and to mark World Day Against Foie Gras, after she had revealed her decision in a reply to an earlier letter.

But the news dismayed local producers, who point out that Strasbourg was known as ‘the capital of foie gras’ in the 19th century.

“This is a somewhat surprising announcement, one day before the opening of the Christmas Market. Our association has stands there,” the president of the foie gras producers of Alsace – a group of about a dozen farmers – who raise ducks and geese for processing told Le Figaro

The news “tarnishes the image of Alsatian foie gras, a product renowned throughout France,” he said.

“Is she going to take down the Gänseliesel in the Parc de l’Orangerie?” he added, referring to the statue sculpted in 1898 of the young girl leading a flock of geese which references the practice. 

“Are we going to eliminate all animal products, meat and fish, from official tables? Is it normal for the mayor of Strasbourg to impose a personal choice?” another producer, a fifth-generation farmer, asked. 

The farmers have the backing of regional politicians.

“Goose foie gras is a  local product, the tradition is linked to Christmas and Advent,” said Grand-Est regional President Jean Rottner.

More usually associated with the south west of France, foie gras has long been controversial because of the methods of production, which involves force-feeding ducks or geese until the develop the distinctive ‘fatty’ liver. 

Member comments

  1. Food production should never involve the torture of animals. Why is the EU and their ‘lauded standards’ ok with this ?

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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