AWI supports Representative Steve Israel’s Poison-Free Poultry Act of 2009, H.R. 3624, introduced September 22, 2009. H.R. 3624 bans roxarsone, an arsenic compound used as a growth-promoting additive to poultry and swine feed, which poses a threat to environmental quality and public health, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, neurological defects, diabetes and cancer. Farmers who use roxarsone for their animals and consumers of contaminated product are both at risk. In addition, the dangerous levels of arsenic in chicken manure ultimately contaminate crops, waterways and the land. Not only are the environment and public health threatened when roxarsone is added to poultry and swine feed for fast growth and to combat intestinal parasites, but animal welfare is compromised as well. Animals who innocently eat feed laced with drugs to make them grow unnaturally fast are prone to disease and crippling physical abnormalities. In addition, humane husbandry coupled with prevention, not drugs, is the antidote for intestinal parasites. Low stocking density, rotation of pasture, pasture management and composition, nutrition, multi-species management and breeding strategies can increase resistance to parasites. It is reckless to add a known carcinogen to animal feed. By ending this unnecessary and dangerous practice, H.R. 3624 will protect farmers and consumers from a known toxin, ensure that arsenic-contaminated animal waste does not threaten the environment, and improve the treatment of poultry and pigs.
“Nobody should have to wonder if their chicken dinner is secretly carrying a carcinogen,” said Rep. Israel. “Roxarsone is an unnecessary and dangerous arsenical that we don’t need in our food and that we don’t want in our food. It’s time we stop big factory farms from trying to make their chicken pink by exposing us all to a toxin.”