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Group Urges The North Face to Stop Using Down

Force feeding of birds for Foie Gras production. Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary
Force feeding of birds for Foie Gras production. Courtesy of Farm Sanctuary
April 9, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. - Whether they're used for an edible delicacy or for jackets, pillows and sleeping bags, ducks and geese are getting the short end of the stick, according to many animal-rights groups. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is urging the popular active-wear company The North Face to stop using goose and duck down in its products.

According to David Byer, senior corporate liaison for PETA, ducks and geese face what amounts to torture and abuse no matter where or how the down makes its way into a garment, sleeping bag or comforter.

"People are shocked when they learn about birds, how they see them often pinned down while hurried workers yank fistfuls of feathers from the birds' sensitive bodies while they're still alive, often plucking them so violently that they rip open the birds' delicate skin," Byer declared.

Byer said there are many alternatives to bird down that are just as warm and also hold up better and are hypoallergenic.

More than 50,000 people are calling on The North Face to stop using down in their products. The on-line petition can be found on PETA's website.

Buying down products also supports another industry, the production of foie gras, a pate' made from the fattened livers of geese and ducks. According to Erica Meier, executive director of Compassion Over Killing, a group that adamantly opposes the production of foie gras, the birds are force-fed through a pipe that is shoved down their throats so that food can be pumped into their stomachs, which enlarges their livers unnaturally.

"Compassionate people everywhere agree that there is nothing refined about eating the grossly fattened liver of a tortured bird, and experts around the world have concluded that the practice of force-feeding ducks and geese for foie gras is absolutely inhumane," Meier charged.

Many foie gras producers counter that birds do not suffer during the force-feeding process. Meier however asserted that the practice is considered so inhumane that it has been banned in California and in more than a dozen countries.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA