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Part 1 - Chickens with tumours

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

LifeHakx - Chickens with tumours sold for food?!

By Eva Wisenbeck 23/11/2020

Conspiracy Theory vs Critical Thinking

Chickens with tumours sold for food?!

Diseased Chickens – Amendments to the Defense Production Act in the USA

So, can chicken infected with Avian Leukosis, which causes cancerous lesions and tumours to grow, now be sold for human food consumption?

The answer is yes, it is not a conspiracy theory no matter how yuk it might sound.

President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act late spring 2020, as a means to bolster American food security during the current pandemic and since July this means that now poultry carcasses affected with one or more of the several forms of Avian Leukosis complex will no longer be condemned. It has been approved as a “trimmable condition” meaning they can cut out any visible tumours and process the rest for sale.

This change has been petitioned by the National Chicken Council and part of their rationale provided is as follows:

“Amending the regulations is supported by scientifically and economically sound rationales: Avian Leukosis does not present a food-safety risk, modern understanding of the avian disease is much more advanced than when FSIS first developed its policy, the condition is not a systemic disease, modern vaccination and breeding programs have all but eliminated Avian Leukosis, and amending the regulation would reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.”

However the other side of the argument still say:

"Here’s what we know about Avian Leukosis: A small percentage of birds (less than 1%) are diagnosed with the virus each year, but it spreads quickly through flocks and tens of thousands of chickens are condemned annually due to exposure. While it’s unlikely that the virus could transfer from chickens to humans, it’s not impossible. There is some evidence that workers exposed to birds infected with the disease in the U.K. have developed antibodies, indicating a transfer of the virus from animal to human.”

Parthapratim Basu, who served as the Chief Public Health Veterinarian for the FSIS from 2016 to 2018, explained that Avian Leukosis is caused by a retrovirus and can become a systemic disease that passes through the blood, at which point cutting out tumors would fail to eliminate the virus. “We have always had a motto in food safety: If it’s systemic, condemn it,” said Basu.

“We are dealing right now with a pandemic that transferred into humans from an animal source,” Basu added. “Sooner or later it will mutate,” he said of Avian Leukosis. “A poorly regulated meat industry could very well become the source of a new epidemic.”

The CDC reports that “more than six out of every 10 known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals, and 3 out of every 4 new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.”

Other efforts to deregulate the chicken industry are similarly worrisome. The USDA is considering another proposed rule change requested by the National Chicken Council, which would allow all U.S. poultry factories to increase line speed rates from processing 140 to 175 birds per minute. (As Basu pointed out, it’s hard enough for line workers to detect symptoms of Avian Leukosis at current line speed rates — nearly three birds per second in many plants.)

The USDA has already allowed dozens of poultry processors to increase processing line speeds to this rate, prompting America’s largest meatpacking union to sue over unsafe working conditions and legislators to introduce bills 1 to prevent faster production line speeds.

“To speed up lines, when during a pandemic they should be slowing them down, is unconscionable,” said Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist for the group, Food and Water Watch, who helped write the bills. “In my 20 years working on food safety law I have never seen anything like this.”

Many of these changes are introduced under the banner of “short term solutions during a pandemic”. I can’t answer if this is justifiable, necessary or in our best interest. That is not my call to make. I am asking you to please get curious, ask questions, ask for updates. And find out what it happening locally to you, in your country.

CRISPR Gene-Edited Chickens?

Chicken has also been eyed for the use of gene editing (CRISPR) due to avian leucosis virus, and a “CRISPR” chicken may be coming to your dinner plate soon. In 2018, researchers with the Czech Academy of Sciences determined that, because avian leukosis viruses (ALVs) use specific receptor proteins to gain entry into cells, such receptors would make good targets for “biotechnological manipulation”

Researchers demonstrated that CRISPR-Cas9, a gene-editing tool, was effective in rendering chickens resistant to the J subgroup of ALV. No visible side effects were apparent after the process, but the word “visible” is key, as many unexpected changes may still occur that aren’t immediately recognizable, and it’s possible that those changes could be transferred to other organisms or generations

A number of gene-edited plant foods have also been developed or proposed, including non-browning mushrooms and soybean oil; plant foods developed using gene-editing tools do not require USDA approval.

The rule, known as the "Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient" (SECURE) rule, was finalized in May 2020 and maintained the status that crops edited using CRISPR-Cas9 and other similar technologies would be non-regulated. For now, gene-edited foods cannot be labelled organic, which is one more reason why seeking out organic and biodynamic foods is so important

You can listen to the podcast episode here:


Bloomberg - Diseased Chicken for Dinner? The USDA Is Considering It 11th of August 2020 - Executive Order on Delegating Authority Under the DPA with Respect to Food Supply Chain Resources During the National Emergency Caused by the Outbreak of COVID-19 28th of April 2020

Watch out for part two! Next Sunday, same time, same place! Please like, share and follow us on:


Meet The Team


Eva Wisenbeck

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Eva Wisenbeck is a Co-Presenter of LifeHakx & a Wellness Coach

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Mary Collins

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Mary Collins is the Creator and Presenter of LifeHakx Media.

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