Pamela Anderson ruffles French feathers in foie gras debate

Former "Baywatch" actress Pamela Anderson has ruffled more than few feathers in Paris after calling for a ban of force feeding poultry to produce foie gras.

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Pam Anderson With Bird

Former "Baywatch" actress Pamela Anderson has ruffled more than few feathers in Paris after calling for a ban on the force feeding ducks and geese to produce foie gras.

Invited by green deputy, Laurence Abeille, to speak at a press conference in the French National Assembly in support of a bill to outlaw the practice, Anderson urged French deputies to ban the force feeding of these birds and implored the French public to stop eating foie gras.

“In France,” she said, “the primary cultural image of French cuisine is of the force feeding and slaughter of some 80 million ducks and geese every year.

“As a Canadian, I am ashamed of the brutal clubbing of baby seals, and thus I have empathy for many of the French citizens who also experience both shame and sadness at the misery suffered by these very sociable birds.”

She continued that there was no place for the “cruel” industry in a civilized society.

Hot and bothered

Unsurprisingly, her appeal was not warmly welcomed and responses ranged from the economic to the downright insulting.

Statistics were rolled out by those in favor of the ban to argue that the French public was with them, while those against the ban also had figures indicating public support.

Among economic arguments for preserving the status quo were that that the industry has 30,000 direct employees and that, at a time when the poultry industry is again dealing with avian influenza, no measures should be imposed that would harm it further.

But some French deputies were more dismissive of the celebrity’s National Assembly appearance, pointing out that Anderson’s presence was nothing more than “spectacle politics,” and that the proposal was an attack on French gastronomic culture.

Others stooped lower, saying that she knew nothing, and that there was “no silicone in foie gras.” Another deputy went as far as to refer to her as “a big turkey, force fed with silicone.”

Abeille and her Groupe Ecologiste defended Anderson’s right to speak out and draw attention to the debate; however the sexist attacks gained as much media attention as the actress’ support for the bill and her intervention. The proposal, as widely expected, was rejected, and Anderson has returned home.

Twelve EU countries have outlawed force feeding to produce foie gras, and while France is not the only European country to produce the luxury food, it does account for 80 percent of the world’s production.

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