Many people are well aware of the fact that chickens are regularly given roxarsone, what amounts to arsenic, in an attempt to both fight parasites and increase the growth rate of chickens while making the flesh of the chicken that certain "appetizing" shade of pink.
However, the worrisome substances in present in the chickens we eat do not end there. This is just one of the many fronts in the war on our health and the freedom to choose foods free from extraneous chemicals. For more on this subject, listen to our interview with Heather Callaghan of Activist Post on End the Lie radio below:
Two new studies, co-authored by Keeve Nachman, a scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future, have found a disturbing amount of chemicals being fed to chickens on factory farms on a routine basis.
"We were kind of floored," Nachman said. "It's unbelievable what we found."
One of the studies was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology while the other peer-reviewed study was published in Science of the Total Environment.
Some claim that there is no proof that the arsenic is harmful to either the chicken or the person who eventually consumes the chicken, but the sheer amount of it that is in our food supply is nothing short of disturbing.
Indeed, a 2004 Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy study showed that over half of the chicken bought in stores or in fast food restaurants contained abnormally high levels of arsenic.
It gets even more troubling when one realizes that a shocking 2.2. million pounds of the substance are used on a yearly basis in the production of 43 billion pounds of poultry.
If the claims that there is absolutely no danger posed by the use of arsenic in feed are completely true, one must wonder why the Maryland state Senate passed a bill banning chicken feed containing arsenic with a 32-14 vote.
"This bill in my mind is a no-brainer. The scientific questions have been answered. We're talking about a heavy metal, a known carcinogen that we're spreading on the land," Drew Koslow, the Choptank Riverkeeper for the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy said.
"We have allowed the industry to add tons of deadly arsenic to Maryland's food and environment each year for decades," said Tom Hucker, a Democratic Delegate, in a statement.
All that remains is for the House to accept the Senate's amendments and then Maryland will become the first state in America to ban roxarsone, hopefully setting a precedent which will help similar legislation be passed across the nation.
Aside from arsenic, new research has discovered that chickens have been fed a massive drug cocktail including fluoroquinolones, a banned antibiotic which is illegal because it has been linked to the creation of so-called "superbugs."
Furthermore, they found caffeine and even the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) Prozac, which is prescribed for depression, in chicken imported from China, along with antihistamines, and acetaminophen.
Apparently, Prozac was placed in chicken feed because chickens who are stressed out tend to produce tougher meat and given the atrocious conditions chickens are subjected to in factory farming operations, chickens are often understandably stressed.
The caffeine reportedly comes from coffee pulp and green tea powder also placed in their feed in order to force them to stay awake longer and eat more food, thus bulking up faster for sale.
All of this was discovered through tests conducted on the chickens' feathers, which are similar to the fingernails and hair of humans in their ability to accumulate chemicals.
Potentially the most disturbing part of this entire thing is that many farmers are reportedly not even aware that they are feeding their chickens this drug cocktail.
This is because farmers are often forced to use a certain food mix by the food companies that purchase their poultry, meaning they don't really have a choice in the matter and often are completely clueless about the questionable ingredients.
Even more worrisome, some organic chicken meat has been shown to have traces of arsenic in tests, although organic chicken feed supposedly does not have roxarsone as an additive.
Since this is the case, Sara Novak concludes, "the next most rational step is to give up the bird completely."
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