Letter to the NY State Commissioner of Health Prior to Their Approval of Feeding Lead Contaminated Geese to the Elderly and Poor

By Dr. Gregg B. Feigelson

July 18, 1997

Dr. Barbara A. DeBuono
New York State Commissioner of Health
Corning Tower

Via FAX Transmission: 518-474-5450

Dear Dr. DeBuono:

I am very concerned about your department’s involvement with activities initiated by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation concerning the live capture of wild Canada geese for slaughter. It is eminently clear that since such actions are as unpopular as they are cruel, the NYS DEC has decided to implement a false charity public relations gimmick: distribution of the dead geese to the needy, homeless, and elderly — a segment of society for which, at least superficially, the general public has sympathy. The needy and disenfranchised must not only be protected from the physiological harm that might result from ingesting “food” from an unregulated source, but they also need protection from a clear case of premeditated socio-economic discrimination. I ask that your department reject out-of-hand any attempt to distribute the flesh of these dead geese.

It is peculiar that the wildlife division of the NYS DEC would voluntarily commit resources to oversee the slaughter of geese and the testing of their flesh for toxic chemicals. Such activities bear no relation to their overall mission and tend to imply ulterior motives. While these suspicious circumstances prompt legitimate concern over the validity of the data generated, there are issues of interpretation that also must be addressed. With due respect, I must point out that it would be completely irresponsible to determine the safety of consuming geese based on established thresholds. Scientists have recently begun to challenge these “acceptable levels” and in many cases determined that such levels are orders of magnitude too high.

Further, it is particularly important to note that such standards were not designed to predict margins of safety for those whose overall health deviates substantially from “average”: the groups targeted to receive the flesh (e.g. the needy, homeless, very young, the elderly and combinations thereof). Thus, since there are no sound scientific standards to which the toxic substance testing data can be compared, there can be no legitimate grounds to claim that wild geese are safe for these individuals to consume. I take for granted that your agency shares my belief that all law abiding citizens of New York State, regardless of age, race or economic status deserve protection from exploitation; especially from state agencies who are looking for distractions to their agendas of destruction.

By not allowing the NYS DEC to create a dangerous double-standard of food safety, a low standard for the needy and a higher one for those who can afford it, your department will have the opportunity to confirm our shared beliefs. I ask that the New York State Department of Health not become a party to the unethical public relations maneuvers of the Department of Environmental Conservation (Bureau of Wildlife). Please reject their efforts to hide the evidence of their actions in the bowels of our state’s most vulnerable.

Sincerely, Gregg B. Feigelson, Ph.D.


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