17 March 2010

Toxic Chickens, Anyone?

Chestertown Spy: MD Farms Putting Arsenic in Chickens
Washington Post: A Deadly Ingredient in a Chicken Dinner

This is a hot topic in the area right now, as we are in the middle of the chicken belt and Perdue's national headquarters are smack in the middle of Maryland's Eastern Shore (which is almost entirely rural, and dedicated almost entirely to raising chickens and grain for chickens- both of which are sorely contested as one of the main causes of the failing health of the Chesapeake Bay).

There have long been reports of arsenic in the drinking water on the lower shore, especially around chicken houses, and many children have tested positive for highly dangerous levels of arsenic in their systems.

This is the bit that got me going though:
"“It’s inhumane to withhold effective … treatment from sick animals,” Krushinskie said, comparing it to withholding antibiotics from a sick child."

Let's be clear that this is referring to giving arsenic based medication to chickens who are raised in chicken houses, to keep alive long enough to get to slaughter, because of the filthy conditions they live in- which are already about as inhumane as you can get.

Delegates against the ban actually argued that there is no problem with arsenic because it is natural and organic, citing its presence on the periodic table of elements as a basis for their argument. And of course, if the FDA says its ok, it must be.

Perdue claims to have stopped using it for their chickens but really have been using it off and on again, based on how much pressure they are getting from the companies they sell to (such as McDonald's). None of this is particularly surprising though, especially as Jim Perdue, CEO of Perdue, was recently awarded a prestigious award by the governor of our state: http://www.perdue.com/company/news/press_releases/press_release_detail.html?id=1224

Perdue cites their commitment to stewardship, sustainability, and family farming as the reasons for the success of their company- though they are well known around here for submitting their farmers to surveillance, harassment, and threat tactics to keep them from saying anything bad about the company, and several Perdue "family farms" have recently been sued for the MASSIVE amount of nutrient run off from their farms- including record levels of E. Coli, which run off straight into the Chesapeake Bay.

Just another example of how government officials are in the pocket of major corporations (did you catch O’Malley say he frequently turns to Jim Perdue for advice???), how corporations are able to get away with murder and yet still receive recognition as pillars of the community (AS IF), and how we are all in really, really deep trouble.

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