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  • Chicken are locked in a poultry farm in Bergentheim, Netherlands.

    Chicken are locked in a poultry farm in Bergentheim, Netherlands. | Photo: AFP

Published 12 October 2017

Poultry farmers in the Netherlands can't get rid of chicken feces and many are near bankruptcy after an August insecticide scandal.

Farmers in the Netherlands are suffering from an overflow of chicken manure contaminated with a European Union-banned insecticide, fipronil.

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Poultry farmers in the country can’t send the tainted manure to biomass power plants that convert the feces into electricity, as many typically do. They must send it to two incinerators equipped to eliminate the insecticide-contaminated feces, which can’t keep up with the demand to burn the chicken manure since August’s chicken egg scandal. The tainted manure has sat in barns and farms since that time.

EU officials announced in late July that millions of fipronil-laced chicken eggs had to be pulled from supermarket shelves across 12 EU countries and Hong Kong. Approximately 3.2 million chickens in the Netherlands were ordered killed in order to rid the food system of the insecticide.

Since then 267 poultry farmers in the Netherlands remain inoperable, and many are on the brink of bankruptcy. Hennie de Haan, president of the Dutch Poultry Farmers association told AFP, "The situation is becoming unmanageable. Farmers … feel they have been totally abandoned." She added that affected farmers “haven't received one centime (cent) in aid since the start of the crisis” from the government.

It was discovered in August that a Dutch company, Chickfriend, was likely selling the banned fipronil to two men who then passed it off as an herbal-based, “secret” recipe solution against fleas and ticks to poultry farmers at a farmer convention in March of 2016. The two men, Martin van de Braak and Mathijs Ijzerman were arrested on Aug. 10. They are currently out on bail and awaiting trial.

Fipronil is commonly used to rid animals of fleas, lice and ticks. In humans, it can induce seizures, thyroid and kidney dysfunction, and possibly death if consumed.

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