Maryland Politicians Chicken Out on Arsenic Ban

Last year, Delegate Tom Hucker, D-Montgomery, and Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George’s, announced a measure that would ban arsenic from chicken feed in the state. The bill would have prohibited the use, selling, or distributing commercial feed intended for use as poultry feed that contains Roxarsone or any other additive that contains arsenic.

The bill has failed to pass as intended and activists are angry.

Says Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, in a statement released today by the organization:

For the third year in a row, the Maryland State House has failed consumers and their vital resources by undermining groundbreaking legislation that would have banned the use of arsenic in the state’s poultry industry.


Maryland's ban on Roxarsone, an arsenic-based feed additive, would have not have only kept it out of chicken flesh, but from chicken waste, which in turn can end up in the Chesapeake Bay.

In 2006, study from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) estimated that more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens raised for meat are fed arsenic. 55 percent of uncooked chicken purchased from supermarkets contained detectable levels of arsenic.

Some growers like Purdue Farms and Tyson Foods have already pledged not to add arsenic compounds to chicken feed.

But the Food & Water Watch statement lays the blame for the ban's failure at the feet of lobbyists, "At the last minute the poultry and pharmaceutical industries made changes to the bill to ban arsenic, effectively nullifying the bill’s intent. They then used their political clout to pass the gutted bill through the House of Delegates."

The group is urging the Maryland State Senate to implement an actual ban on arsenic in chicken production by restoring the bill's original language and proving their loyalties lie with constituents, not the powerful poultry and pharmaceutical industries.

Tags: Chemicals | Factory Farming | Farming | Maryland | Toxins