TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the agriculture and markets law, in relation to the
manufacture, distribution, sale and use of commercial feed for poultry
containing roxarsone or any other substance that contains arsenic
This legislation prohibits a person from manufacturing, selling, or
distributing within the State any commercial feed intended for use as
poultry feed that contains roxarsone or any other additive that
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section one amends the agriculture and markets law by
adding a new section 131-a. The proposed legislation prohibits a
person from manufacturing, selling, or distributing within the State
any commercial feed intended for use as poultry feed that contains
roxarsone or any other additive that contains arsenic. Moreover, it
provides that any person that violates the subdivision shall be
guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
Section two establishes that this law shall take effect on the
thirtieth day after it shall have become law.
Most major poultry producers in this country were adding an arsenic
compound called roxarsone to their chicken feed, purportedly to fight
parasites and increase growth in chickens. Inorganic arsenic is a
Class A carcinogen that has been linked to heart disease, diabetes
and a reduction in brain functionality. Recent studies show that most
Americans are routinely exposed to between three and eleven times the
Environmental Protection Agency's recommended safety limit of the
additive. Roxarsone is proven to promote the growth of blood vessels
in chicken, making the meat appear pinker and more attractive in its
packaging, but does little else. The additive does the same in human
cells, fueling a growth process known as angiogenesis, a critical
first step in many human diseases such as cancer.
Roxarsone also presents health risks to farmers who work with the
chemical or with fertilizers.
Poultry farmers have reported illness from contact with roxarsone
while preparing feed.
Additionally, many smaller poultry farms rely on contracts with larger
poultry producers that mandate the use of arsenic in chicken feed,
making the health risks associated with roxarsone unavoidable for
smaller farms. While several large poultry producers have
discontinued the use of roxarsone for their animals, as recently as
2006, 70% of the more than 9 billion broiler chickens produced
annually in this country were fed roxarsone.
In addition to the toxins consumed at the dinner table, American
broiler chickens generate billions of pounds of animal waste each
year, causing significant arsenic runoff into soil and surrounding
waterways. The dangerous levels of arsenic in chicken manure
ultimately contaminate crops, nearby bodies of water, fertilized
lawns and may even reach drinking water.
In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration (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. The FDA concluded that using roxarsone leads to a "completely
avoidable exposure to a carcinogen."
Sales of roxarsone were recently voluntarily suspended by Alpharma, a
subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., in response to the FDA study. Pfizer
announced in June 2011 that the suspension would go into effect in
July 2011, allowing poultry producers a month to adjust to the
I applauded the FDA for persuading roxarsone's manufacturer,
Alpharma/Pfizer, to voluntarily suspend sales of the drug, however
more must be done to ensure we are not exposed to such dangerous
levels of arsenic. I therefore respectfully requested that the FDA
completely ban the use of roxarsone and other arsenic-based drugs
from being used in chicken feed.
The decision remains with Pfizer whether to continue its self-imposed
moratorium. As a result, I am advocating that New York State prohibit
a person from manufacturing, selling, or distributing within the
State any commercial feed intended for use as poultry feed that
contains roxarsone or any other additive that contains arsenic.
The thirtieth day after it shall have become law.