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Bill Introduced to Ban Arsenic Antibiotics in Feed

U.S. Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced legislation Wednesday to ban the use of the an arsenical compound used in animal production.

The Poison-Free Poultry Act of 2009, or H.R. 3624, would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to ban roxarsone, an arsenical antimicrobial drug used to ward off infection in industrial swine and poultry production.

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“American consumers simply shouldn’t have to ingest this arsenic compound when they sit at the kitchen table,” said Rep. Israel. “There’s a reason some major poultry producers have stopped using it–it can only cause environmental and health problems.”

Though the Congressman will soon begin a push for co-sponsors and endorsements to build support for the bill, there are many groups who will likely oppose the measure because they see roxarsone as a necessary tool for food animal production.

“The use of roxarsone prevents the disease coccidiosis in poultry. In so doing, it enhances animal welfare, increases sustainability of production, and can lead to improved food safety,” according to John E. Starkey, President of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.

“There are well established and well respected procedures in place at FDA to ensure the safety and efficacy of the use of products such as roxarsone in animal feeds,” said Starkey.

According to Keeve E. Nachman, the Science Director for Food Production, Health and Environment at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future, some poultry producers have reportedly voluntarily stopped the use of roxarsone in their feed regimens due to public health concerns.

You can read the Poison-Free Poultry Act of 2009 here.

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