A French MP has urged restaurants in France to boycott the selling of Californian wines after the US state banned the sale of foie gras on 1 July.
The French MP for Gers in the south-west heartland of foie gras production, Philippe Martin, has responded to failed efforts made by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to appeal the ban, by calling on restaurants to boycott The Golden State’s wine in “a show of solidarity”.
"I call on all the restaurants in France that sell Californian wine to stop doing so in a show of solidarity for our foie gras makers and, more broadly, for all food makers," Martin told The Independent.
Animal rights activities and anti-Foie Gras campaigners have denounced the production of the French delicacy as animal cruelty despite it being classified as a protected gastronomic and cultural heritage by the French state in 2006.
The process, known as gavage, relies on ducks and geese being forcibly overfed in order to enlarge the birds’ livers to several times their natural size. The technique dates back to 1st century AD and the head of France's Foie Gras promotion body, the Cifog, believes some of the views on the process by which foie gras is produced, are outdated and ill-informed.
"Twenty years ago, people used to say 'it has to be hidden because people are shocked' but today we're saying 'you have to show people and explain' because you can see that our critics are spreading false information." Marie-Pierre Pé explained.
Although she dismissed anti-foie gras campaigners as "animal rights activists who only want to push vegetarianism and put an end to the consumption of animal products," Pé distanced herself from Martin’s suggestions.
“We want the consumer to have free choice; that he or she can buy wine from California, and that people in California aren't stopped from buying foie gras." She added.
The decision to outlaw foie gras was taken in 2004 and signed into law by Arnold Schwarzenegger, then the governor of California, and during the eight-year grace period which was designed to allow California’s only domestic foie gras supplier to find a humane process of production, prices of the delicacy surged to record highs amid soaring demand.
France produces more than 16,000 tons of foie gras annually, or two-thirds of the product sold globally and while Martin is aware his efforts to boycott Californian wine are unlikely to have a significant effect on the global wine trade, he believes they had to make a stand.
“This won’t have a severe impact on the Gers region trade balance, let alone the French trade, or the California trade balance, but we had to send a strong signal because we think this is an unfair measure,” Martin concluded.
California produced 90 per cent of the US’ $1.4 billion in wine exports last year, according to the Wine Institute in San Francisco, although little of that was exported to France, who last year were the second largest exporter of wines to the US, behind Italy. According to the United States Commerce Department French wine imports reached $253.5 million in the first quarter of this year.