Yesterday I wrote about producers changing their approach to foie gras production and I wondered, "By changing their approach to product, aren't producers acknowledging that force-feeding is inhumane?" Some folks wrote in with some thoughts about my question.
I would say, not necessarily. Producers could merely be acknowledging that if they don't change their production methods, shrill activists may get their product banned altogether, so they're attempting to compromise.
Obviously the producers have to speak for themselves.
But in my view efforts to find a way other than gavage to create foie gras is simply an acknowledgment that some people object to force-feeding (whether the arguments are correct or not), are passing laws against it, and the producers want to stay in business.
I don't think the only or strongest conclusion is that force-feeding in foie gras production is inhumane, nor do I think that producers exploring alternatives is inconsistent with their statements that the animals don't suffer during the process. An alternative view is that the producers are aware of the power of public opinion–informed or not, scientifically correct or not–and are considering other approaches that may yield the same product but avoid the public condemnation. Trying to find the happy medium, as it were.
All three of you raise valid points, and it's quite possible that the production changes are motivated by a simple desire to stay in business. Still though, I can't help but feel like this is one of those logic problems you see on tests. If force-feeding is inhumane, you change your method. If it's not, you don't. Of course, I never took logic in college, so I'm sure I could be guilty of some kind of logical fallacy here. Thanks for writing folks, it reminds me I should turn on comments again!