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FDA finally joins ban of three arsenic drugs used in poultry and pigs

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: FDA, arsenic drugs, poultry production

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(NaturalNews) After years of careless neglect that prompted threats of a lawsuit by environmental and human rights advocacy groups, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reluctantly agreed to nullify approval for three of the four arsenical drugs currently being used in conventional animal feed. But The New York Times (NYT) reports that the agency ultimately decided to withdraw approval for the drugs, not out of a concern for public safety, but because of a petition by the drugs' manufacturers to take action.

Following the release of multiple reports in recent years verifying the presence of inorganic arsenic (iAs) in conventional chicken meat, some drug manufacturers have since voluntarily stopped manufacturing and supplying certain arsenical drugs that were deemed responsible. During this same time, it was expected that the FDA would respond by improving the regulatory structure for this class of drugs, or perhaps even ban it altogether.

But that never happened, and now the drug manufacturers themselves are actually having to call on the useless agency to withdraw its approval for drugs that have since been voluntarily discontinued. According to the NYT, these drug compounds include roxarsone, carbarsone and arsanilic acid, all of which have been used in more than 100 drug blends given to chickens, turkeys and pigs.

Four years ago, the Center for Food Safety filed a joint petition with a number of other consumer advocacy groups asking the FDA to take action against arsenical drugs. Several years later, Consumer Reports issued its own report highlighting substantial levels of arsenic in rice. The general consensus among the scientific community was that arsenical drugs were responsible for high levels of iAs in food consumed by humans.

FDA continues legacy of pandering to corporations while betraying public health

This should have been enough, in and of itself, to prompt the FDA to at least take a closer look at the safety profile of the drugs. But it was not until the manufacturers of these drugs, which obviously have an interest in maintaining their approval, approached the agency and asked for their withdrawal, that the FDA finally took action. But this action turned out to be more symbolic than it was substantial, as all the drugs in question have already been voluntarily phased out of use.

"Zoetis withdrew roxarsone from the market voluntarily two years ago, and the companies have moved to withdraw the other two," explained Richard Sellers, vice president for feed and regulation and nutrition at the American Feed Industry Association, to the NYT. Zoetis and Fleming Labs had both produced the three drug compounds in question. "Now the FDA is legally withdrawing their ability to market those drugs."

The sequence of events with this whole matter, from the drug companies petitioning to have their approval withdrawn to the FDA issuing official, albeit meaningless, withdrawals of the drugs, shows just how useless and corrupt this government agency truly is. The FDA should have withdrawn approval for these drugs half a decade ago or more, as evidence had already been pouring in at that time to show that arsenical drugs have no business being added to animal feed.

But the agency did absolutely nothing and continues to play the role of corporate lap dog to this very day. This is evidenced by the fact that other arsenical drugs will still remain on the market, according to the Consumers Union. Until all arsenical drugs are banned from use in chicken and pig feed, iAs contamination will continue to be a problem, and millions of unsuspecting Americans will continue to be exposed to this highly-toxic, cancer-causing compound.

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