by Tom Laskawy

Back in March, Tom Philpott wrote about the “insane” practice of feeding factory-farmed chickens arsenic:

The idea is that it makes them grow faster — fast growth being the supreme goal of factory animal farming — and helps control a common intestinal disease called coccidiosis.

The industry emphasizes that the arsenic is applied in organic form, which isn’t immediately toxic. “Organic” in the chemistry sense, that is, not the agricultural sense — i.e., molecules containing carbon atoms as well as arsenic. Trouble is, arsenic shifts from organic to inorganic rather easily. Indeed, “arsenic in poultry manure is rapidly converted into an inorganic form that is highly water soluble and capable of moving into surface and ground water,” write Keeve E. Nachman and Robert S. Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.

Inorganic arsenic is the highly poisonous stuff — see the absurd and wonderful Cary Grant classic Arsenic and Old Lace, or the EPA’s less whimsical take here and here [PDF]. The fact that the organic arsenic added to feed turns inorganic when it makes its way into manure is chilling, given the mountains of concentrated waste generated by factory poultry farms.

One way farmers add arsenic to chicken feed is through drugs such as Pfizer’s Roxarsone. And the industry has (as with most of its worst practices) strenuously defended the use of such additives. While the USDA has by and large ignored the risks (mostly in the form of an unwillingness to look for arsenic in chicken), finally — astonishingly — the FDA has acted.

According to the Associated Press, the FDA has confirmed that chickens given the drug (frequently those destined for the low-cost supermarket shelf) do indeed test positive for inorganic arsenic — just as the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found [PDF] back in 2006. Despite this earlier evidence, the industry had continued to steadfastly maintain that the arsenic could not and did not make it into the meat.

Read the Full Article Here:


Purchase Organic Chickens raised on pasture and soy-free Cocofeed.

Purchase Organic Soy-free Eggs High in Omega 3 fatty acids.