France will not go to WTO over California foie gras ban

Posted at 07/24/12 10:45 AM

TOULOUSE, France - France has ruled out going to the World Trade Organization to challenge a ban on French speciality foie gras, a minister said Monday.

"To file an appeal before the World Trade Organization would not be the right solution," Guillaume Garot, junior minister for food and agriculture, told members of the industry during a visit to the southwest Gers region.

"We would risk losing and facing retaliatory measures," he added.

But Garot said the California ban was a wake-up call for the industry, illustrating the strength of lobby groups English-speaking world who oppose the product which is a delicacy in French cuisine.

Animal welfare groups have opposed the production of foie gras because it is made by force-feeding ducks.

"We have to react now, put a stop to this tendency...," said Garot.

"We first of all have to convince our American friends that they have got the wrong end of the stick," he added. Garot is already due to have talks with the US ambassador.

On July 1, California introduced a ban on foie gras, made from force-fed ducks, a measure welcomed by animal rights campaigners but opposed by sections of the catering industry there.

A Los Angeles restaurant group and others active in the food industry there filed a lawsuit earlier this month arguing that the ban was "unconstitutional, vague and interferes with federal commerce laws".

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