Maryland is set to become the first U.S. state to ban the use of additives containing arsenic in chicken feed, joining Canada and the EU who already prohibit the practice, according to reports.
Maryland's House of Delegates and Senate approved the legislation at the beginning of April and placed it before Governor Martin O'Malley on April 9. In 2011, the Food and Drug Administration tested 100 chickens by giving them feed containing the additive roxarsone, an arsenic-based drug used to fight animal parasites. Half the chickens later showed trace amounts of inorganic arsenic in their livers. Arsenic is a known carcinogen, and the finding prompted Pfizer to suspend sales of roxarsone. Perdue Farms stopped using the additive years ago, and McDonald's does not allow its suppliers to use it.
Maryland Delegate Charles J. Otto, who opposes the legislation, said that arsenic occurs naturally and shows up in extremely low amounts in chickens. "It's not an environmental threat or human health threat," said Otto.