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Lawsuit Seeks to Eliminate Arsenic in Animal Feed

PHOTO: Lawsuit filed to get arsenic out of animal feed.Courtesy: USDA
PHOTO: Lawsuit filed to get arsenic out of animal feed.
Courtesy: USDA
May 24, 2013

PHOENIX – The Food and Drug Administration is facing a lawsuit because it continues to allow arsenic in animal feed given to chickens, turkeys and hogs.

The suit was filed on behalf of a handful of advocacy groups, including the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

Dr. David Wallinga, a senior adviser with the institute, says the suit stems from a petition that was filed against the FDA three years ago.

"Basically saying, this is arsenic,” he explains. “We don't need it to raise these animals for meat and, in fact, it's a public health hazard, so let's do something about it.

“And we think that the FDA did not respond to the petition, so we're filing suit to force their hand and protect public health."

The suit seeks to yank FDA approval of the four different animal-feed arsenic products that are currently on the market.

The arsenic that's used in animal feed is known as organic. It had been considered somewhat benign, but Wallinga says in reality arsenic is arsenic.
"Whether you're talking about a chicken that's eating this arsenic in their feed," he says, "or whether it's a human being who's taking it in somehow in the meat that they eat, the body can convert that organic form of arsenic into the other forms that are actually closely tied with risk of cancer."

The arsenic in the feed is supposed to help with animal growth and meat coloring, but Wallinga says mixed in with all the other drugs and ingredients, it's not clear that arsenic helps at all.

"Long before we fed arsenic to animals, we were raising them just fine without arsenic,” he maintains. “And in fact, countries around the world, including the European Union, never approved these arsenic chemicals as being safe to put into animal feed."

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ