Maryland conservationists call upon the FDA to ban the use of arsenic in Maryland poultry production. Earlier this year, a bill to ban arsenic from chicken feed was introduced to the Maryland House of Delegates. Arsenic is often added to chicken feed in the form of compound roxarsone to control intestinal disease, promote growth, and also as a cosmetic additive. Between 20 and 50 metric tons of roxarsone are applied to crops every year via poultry waste. Chronic exposure to arsenic has been shown to increase the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological deficits and other health problems. Since the FDA approved the use of arsenic in 1944, science had proven it to be a dangerous, unnecessary contaminant. Dr. Keeve Nachman of Johns Hopkins contends that the “approval of roxarone for the use of poultry and swine production is based on sorely outdated science that ignores both our present-day understanding of arsenic’s toxicity and the potential for arsenic to contaminate soils, water and crops where animal waste is spread.” By not revising the allowed levels of arsenic residues in poultry since 1951, the FDA has neglected to take into account the fact that the average American’s annual chicken consumption has tripled from 20 pounds in the 1940’s to nearly 60 pounds as of 2008. As the seventh largest poultry-producing state in the U.S., Maryland has the opportunity to make a major stride in the fight to protect the health of our environment.
Source: “Activists Mobilize to Ban Arsenic in Maryland Poultry Production; New Food & Water Watch Report Warns of Public Health and Environmental Risks of Chemical” Common Dreams, November 2010
Student Researchers: Zach Clapp and Michael Harris
Faculty Instructor: Kevin Howley Ph.D.
Evaluator: Richard Martoglio, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry