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Time for foie gras ban says MP behind trophy hunting bill

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

The UK must revisit plans to ban foie gras and fur imports, a Tory MP has said.

Last year, the Government delayed plans to ban foie gras and fur imports despite strong public support.

Although the Department for Environment and Agriculture (DEFRA) denied claims the legislation had effectively been shelved, Henry Smith, MP for Crawley who introduced a bill to ban trophy hunting imports to the UK, told the Standard he believes the Government must revisit the legislation.

“From my point of view, I would hope that they would bring that forward as soon as possible,” Mr Smith said.

“I’ve always been of the view that if we believe it is too cruel to be produced here in the UK, then it’s also too cruel to be imported to the UK. Otherwise, you’re just importing cruelty.”

In the UK, fur farming has been banned for over 20 while the production of foie gras is already illegal despite imports being allowed.

Amid public support to banning foie gras imports, Fortnum & Mason’s ended the sale of the product in 2021 while King Charles also banned the food from all royal estates when he came to the throne.

“There’s widespread public opinion and opinion across the house, but this is something that, we, we don’t want to see in this country and, you know, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to progress with that,” Mr Smith added.

“I think it’s an inevitability though.”

Henry Smith MP (PA Media)
Henry Smith MP (PA Media)

Mr Smith’s own legislation, supported by many high-profile celebrities, including Gary Lineker and Dame Joanna Lumley, was passed by MPs earlier this year and is currently going through the House of Lords.

The legislation will cover some 6,000 species including lions, elephants, rhinos and polar bears and comes after the Ivory Act which was introduced last year.

“We’ve left the European Union and I do think it’s easier for Britain to act unilaterally on these issues rather than to get the sort of collective agreements of 27 other nation states,” he said.

“And I would like us to see go further with some other animal welfare issues.”

There had been some opposition to the legislation from who claimed trophy hunting supports conservation and any ban would be a “neo-colonial” act from the UK.

“The claim that trophy hunting supports conservation and brings money to local communities is clearly and demonstrably false said Daniel Kaul, the CEO and founder of conservation-oriented travel company Natucate said.

“In reality, trophy hunting exacerbates human-wildlife conflict, and is one of the driving factors behind why the number of majestic predators like lions have been declining over the past few decades.

“There is a direct link between dwindling lion numbers, and reduced biodiversity. In the absence of top-level predators, grasslands get overgrazed, which sends ripples throughout an already fragile ecosystem,” he added.

“Beyond the environmental impact of trophy hunting, we must remember that this is a fundamentally cruel and barbaric practice that should have been left in the 20th century.

“This move from the British government would send exactly the right signal to other countries who still allow the import of trophies and are therefore complicit in this backward and outdated practice.”

Commenting on plans to ban foie gras and fur imports, a Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs spokesperson previously said: “Fur farming has been banned in the UK for over 20 years, and the production of foie gras by force feeding is already illegal in the UK.

“The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and as set out in our Action Plan for Animal Welfare, we are committed to building a clear evidence base to inform future decisions on these issues.

“We are currently gathering information and speaking to a range of interested parties to help us do this.”