HAVE our food producers learnt nothing? After bringing us BSE, Salmonella, E.coli and antibiotic resistant killer bugs, they've done it again.

They're promoting duck as the new, healthy meat and local supermarkets are going along with it.

In fact it is almost all factory farmed and unbelievably cruel.

Farmed ducks are mostly close relatives of mallards, the brown ducks and handsome, green-headed drakes you see on every pond. Like them, they have evolved to eat, swim, dive, clean and play in water.

Water is the basis of their life. In today's stinking factory farms, where 10,000 birds are often crammed into one shed, they never even see water, except in their drinkers.

Also like their wild cousins they would love to fly at 50 mph, to choose a mate and to live for 15 years or more. Fly? Some can hardly walk because of leg deformities. There's no mating and life ends brutally after seven weeks.

Many will be fully conscious when their throats are cut.

Not only is the factory farming of ducks immoral, it is almost certainly illegal.

How long can we continue to allow animals to be treated as though they were nothing more than pieces of machinery and for Government to defend it?

Happily, you can help restore freedom to these wonderful birds by refusing to buy the meat, complaining to any store which sells it and by supporting Viva!'s Ducks Out Of Water campaign. They can be contacted at 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol, BS2 8QH; tel 0117 944 1000.

R DOWNIE Elcombe Swindon