Lawmaker: Arsenic Compound Causes Cancer
State Sen. Michael Gianaris is fighting for a federal ban on a potentially toxic drug used in chicken feed which he claimed could be harmful to farm animals and humans alike.
Along with members of health and animal rights groups, Gianaris introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of roxarsone, an arsenic compound, and other drugs containing arsenic from being added to poultry feed in New York.
Roxarsone is proven to promote the growth of blood vessels in chicken, making the meat appear pinker and more attractive in its packaging. When consumed by humans, the additive does the same in our cells, fueling a growth process known as angiogenesis, a critical first step in many diseases such as cancer.
“Using a drug with only aesthetic value is unnecessary, particularly when studies reveal it to have lifethreatening consequences,” Gianaris said. “As we continue a campaign to promote healthier eating and lifestyle choices, it is vital that our foods are produced safely and free from potential poisons like roxarsone. While voluntary discontinuance by the manufacturer is a good start, we should not be relying on the benevolence of a private company, however responsible that entity may be, when an issue of such great importance to public health is involved.”
Gianaris also sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting a complete, nationwide ban of roxarsone and other arsenic-based drugs from being used in chicken feed.
In 2011, the FDA found higher levels of inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens treated with the drug than in the livers of untreated chickens. This was the first study to demonstrate that raising chickens with roxarsone leads to the accumulation of inorganic arsenic in poultry tissues, rendering them toxic.
Recent studies show that most Americans are routinely exposed to between three and 11 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended safety limit of the additive.
In response to the FDA’s study last year, sales of roxarsone were voluntarily suspended by the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer, Inc. Gianaris, however, believes a self-imposed moratorium does not do enough to ensure we are not exposed to such dangerous levels of arsenic.