NEW YORK STATE SENATE OFFICE OF SENATOR MICHAEL GIANARIS

For Immediate Release May 21, 2012

Contact: Anna Adams-Sarthou 718-728-0960 sarthou@nysenate.gov

GIANARIS LEGISLATION FIGHTS CANCER-CAUSING ADDITIVE IN POULTRY Introduces legislation and sends letter to FDA requesting drug ban. Queens, NY – Senator Michael Gianaris is fighting a potentially toxic drug used in chicken feed which can be harmful to farm animals and humans, alike. Along with members of health and animal rights groups, Senator Gianaris today introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of roxarsone, an arsenic compound, and other drugs containing arsenic from being added to poultry feed in New York. Roxarsone is proven to promote the growth of blood vessels in chicken, making the meat appear pinker and more attractive in its packaging. When consumed by humans, the additive does the same in our cells, fueling a growth process known as angiogenesis, a critical first step in many diseases such as cancer. “Using a drug with only aesthetic value is unnecessary, particularly when studies reveal it to have lifethreatening consequences,” Senator Gianaris said. “As we continue a campaign to promote healthier eating and lifestyle choices, it is vital that our foods are produced safely and free from potential poisons like roxarsone. While voluntary discontinuance by the manufacturer is a good start, we should not be relying on the benevolence of a private company, however responsible that entity may be, when an issue of such great importance to public health is involved.” Senator Gianaris also sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting a complete, nationwide ban of roxarsone and other arsenic-based drugs from being used in chicken feed. In 2011, the 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. Recent studies show that most Americans are routinely exposed to between 3 and 11 times the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended safety limit of the additive. In response to the FDA’s study last year, sales of roxarsone were voluntarily suspended by the drug’s manufacturer, Pfizer, Inc. Senator Gianaris, however, believes a self-imposed moratorium does not do enough to ensure we are not exposed to such dangerous levels of arsenic. Peter Muller, President of the League of Humane Voters of New York, said, “The League of Humane Voters fully supports the legislation proposed by Senator Gianaris to prohibit the manufacture, selling, or distributing of any poultry feed that contains roxarsone or any other additive that contains arsenic. Arsenic bio-accumulates in the body of animals and people. Small repetitive doses, each below regulatory

concern, can be building up until a lethal quantity is reached. This legislation is necessitated by the all too often recurring failure of regulatory agencies to perform their function. When the regulators fail to regulate, legislators must step in and legislate to protect the public.” Sandra DeFeo, Executive Director of the Humane Society of New York, said, “The use of arsenic in animal feed is just one more example of how factory farms are harming animals, the public’s health, and our environment. The Humane Society of New York supports efforts that could result in banning the horrific conditions that animals endure on factory farms.” The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said, “The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals opposes the use of chicken feed additives to promote excessive or accelerated weight gain. Feed additives such as roxarsone are used to promote weight gain, causing birds raised for meat to grow at unnaturally accelerated rates, compromising their welfare. Chickens raised for meat are forced to carry excessive weight that their skeletons and hearts simply cannot support, causing them chronic pain and heart complications. The ASPCA urges the swift passage of this important legislation.”

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