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Bardot mauls French government over animal rights

October 13, 2006

PARIS – Sixties sex kitten turned animal rights champion Brigitte Bardot sharpened her claws against Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's government on Friday, saying she was ashamed of France's treatment of livestock.

The former actress, whose Brigitte Bardot Foundation regularly criticises politicians across the spectrum, said the government had failed to insist animals were unconscious prior to ritual slaughter.

In an open letter to Villepin, she also criticised the conditions under which live cows are transported to the Middle East as well as poultry farming standards in France, which is Europe's leading farming nation.

'Fortunately, France is alone in its irresponsible and retrograde stance and the European Parliament has adopted a report to enforce EU action,' Bardot wrote.

'That's a very good thing, but I find nothing to celebrate as I am ashamed of being associated with a country represented by imbeciles of the worst kind.'

Bardot, who once said she had given her youth and beauty to men and her older years and wisdom to animals, said that if the animal world had been struck by the same virus of incompetence as Villepin's ministers, there would have to be a mass cull.

France's agriculture ministry was not available for comment.

A French official, who asked not to be identified, said the ritual slaughter of animals was regulated, but that it was a free religious choice whether they should be unconscious first.

France says European Commission proposals on animal welfare should be weighed against scientific and economic criteria. It also wants animal welfare placed on the world trade agenda so that Europe does not become uncompetitive as it tightens rules.

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