Digest: Arsenic feed, fuel from packaging, oyster plea

Department of WTF (!?!): Roxarsone and other arsenic-based additives — known carcinogens — are used in the feed of about 70% of America's 9 billion broiler chickens to promote growth, kill parasites that cause diarrhea, and improve pigmentation of chicken meat. Huh? Even Ethicureans can't escape it: detectable arsenic levels were also found in a third of organic chicken. Vegetarians don't get off scot-free either — roxarsone excreted in chicken litter contaminates land and groundwater via manure fertilizer; and poultry litter made into fertilizer pellets for home gardens and lawns contaminates homegrown produce with arsenic — while also exposing consumers to arsenic dust. The mind just boggles. American Chemical Society

Landfill'er up: DARPA is funding research into a project that makes packaging from corn or soy that, when it has served its purpose, can be easily recycled into biofuel for diesel engines. New York Times

Suffer the little filters: Once upon a time, oysters grew 20 feet deep on the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay and filtered all its water every three days. Now that the oyster reefs and the ecosystem they supported are gone, it's a brown soup, along with other Atlantic waterways. This op-ed offers a possible solution: oyster farms. New York Times

Field tester: Montana's freshman senator, Jon Tester, is spending his spring break back in Big Sandy fixing his tractor so he can get his crops in the ground. He's got peas, red lentils, white and red wheat, and black barley he has to plant — he ends up doing it by moonlight — and the broken tractor is the only one large enough to pull the farm’s tiller and seed planter. Helena Independent Record

Still hungry: Neither the House nor the Senate version of the budget guarantees one dime of new spending for food stamps. The 2007 Farm Bill will up their spending only if lawmakers can offset the increases through budget cuts or tax increases. Des Moines Register

The 100-foot diet: City dwellers planting their own gardens is a natural progression of the conscious eating trend. (Seattle P-I) The Guardian reports that in England, sales of vegetable seeds are outstripping flower seeds for the first time, and community gardens all have waiting lists for plots.

All wrapped up in organic: Nonfood organic items, such as clothing and sheets, are the second-fastest-growing category of all organic products, with sales jumping to $160 million in 2005 from $85 million in 2003. But note: Current federal organic regulations don't cover how the organically grown fibers are processed. although new voluntary global standards call for goods to have 95 percent organic fiber and restrict other details, such as the type of dyes, finishes, and other materials allowed. Boston Globe

After plastics scare, glass baby bottles selling out in stores (San Francisco Chronicle)

Children are the innocent victims of wrongheaded U.S. immigration policy, like Swift & Co. workers swept up in raid (Des Moines Register)

It's open season on wild chinook salmon fishing in the Bay Area (San Francisco Chronicle)

2 Responsesto “Digest: Arsenic feed, fuel from packaging, oyster plea”

  1. Of note in the arsenic article is that McDonald's forbids its suppliers from using the arsenic-containing feed. That decision probably prevents a lot of arsenic from getting into the food chain. But what about Walmart, Burger King and other major chicken buyers? Let's see them ask for the ban.

    A commentary at the free on-line peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives (link 1 below) has some additional information about arsenic in chicken feed.

    I think the 2004 paper by Tamar Lasky referred to in the ACS article is also at Environmental Health Perspectives (link 2).

    Link 1: http://www.ehponline.org/members/2005/7834/7834.html

    Link 2: http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2003/6407/abstract.html

  2. brad says:

    On urban gardening, here in Montréal we have an amazing network of community gardens with long waiting lists. Unfortunately over the last two years it has emerged that many of these gardens are located on contaminated sites, with high concentrations of heavy metals and other pollutants. The community garden nearest to me (a two-minute walk from our apartment) is directly under a powerline and next to a landfill. Fortunately for me, my landlord and neighbors are old Italians who have large gardens in their courtyards; all summer they give us their surplus tomatoes, peas, and beans, plus they give us bottles of homemade wine from their own grapes (the wine is awful, but we can't tell them) and excellent homemade grappa.