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Stars Bardot, Marceau lead fight to amend French food bill


PARIS — Actresses Brigitte Bardot and Sophie Marceau are leading campaigns for mandatory cameras in French slaughterhouses and a ban on the sale of eggs from caged hens as France's parliament prepares to debate a food industry bill Tuesday.

Thirteen animal rights associations have called on lawmakers to add the slaughterhouse and cage regulations to the legislation. In an open letter, they argued that both measures were campaign promises of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The Bardot Foundation released a video in which the former French film star, a longtime animal rights activist, expresses her "revolt at the way animals are slaughtered" and notes she hasn't eaten meat for 40 years.

In a separate video released Monday, former James Bond girl Sophie Marceau endorses the ban on eggs from caged hens. The video includes footage shot by animal rights activists that shows hens crammed into tiny cages with the carcasses of dead birds.

The government's bill strengthens the penalties for animal abuse. It would double the possible sentence to one year in prison and a fine of 15,000 euros ($17,600.)

In recent years, a string of undercover videos has revealed shocking slaughterhouse conditions in the country — showing various abuses of pigs, cows, sheep and hens.

Under former President Francois Hollande, the lower house of parliament approved a bill ordering cameras in slaughterhouses that would have been a first in Europe. The law-making process was abandoned when Macron took office last year.

Legislation making video cameras mandatory in slaughterhouses in England, but not the rest of the United Kingdom, took effect this month.

French Agriculture minister Stephane Travert, speaking Sunday on France Inter radio, said cameras wouldn't be helpful, asserting that it's not possible to determine based on the footage "whether yes or no the animal is actually suffering."

Travert also said he wants hen cages to progressively disappear rather than imposing a ban.

"I'm for a fair compromise and for negotiation," he said.

The French poultry sector is the largest in the European Union. More than two-thirds of eggs sold in France come from caged hens.

France's big grocery retailers, including Carrefour, Leclerc, Lidl and Aldi, have pledged to stop selling such eggs by 2025.

Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press

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