Jury selection for poultry arsenic case
Jury members will soon be selected for a US
lawsuit that claims poultry litter causes cancer.
Michael Green and his parents are suing Alpharma
and Alpharma Animal Health, saying that the companies' feed additive Roxarsone
caused Green's leukemia.
Green is one of approximately 100 plaintiffs from 50 families in the Prairie Grove area that sued local poultry companies two years ago.
"We're not making a claim that it's bad for the chickens," Hunter Lundy, an attorney for the Greens, told Washington County Circuit Court Judge Kim Smith during a pre-trial hearing last week. "The danger is what happens in the litter when it gets out in the environment."
The Greens say they were exposed to the chemical from nearby poultry farms. Roxarsone is added to chicken food to control intestinal parasites.
Their attorneys have argued that exposure to arsenic-laden chicken litter is the only reasonable explanation for the diseases found in Prairie Grove.
Alpharma attorney Robert Adams says there's no proof that arsenic exposure can cause leukemia. Adams also said the Greens haven't shown they were exposed to high levels of arsenic.
Last month, Judge Smith ruled dismissed six poultry companies from the lawsuit. Poultry companies had argued that there is no link between local cancer cases and the use of chicken litter as fertiliser. Thus, the companies argued, the plaintiffs cannot say whose litter they may have been exposed to or how much arsenic was present.
Smith said Green did not demonstrate a direct link between litter spread in the area and a specific company, or a cause and effect relationship between the health problems and arsenic spread on local fields as fertiliser.
The trial is expected to last three weeks to a month.
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