Under siege: Canada’s Natural Health Products industry

Health rights and freedoms are disappearing. On February 4, 2013, Canadians will lose their right to purchase many herbs and vitamins. Possibly for good. It will be the law. UPLAR (Natural Health Products Unprocessed Product Licence Applications Regulations) was passed in 2010 in Canada. It comes due February 4, 2013. It gives Health Canada (Canada’s FDA) legal authority to pull ‘unlicensed’ herbs and vitamins off the shelves with jail time and monetary fines against the sellers. The problem is 80 percent of all herbs and vitamins have not received licensing. Tens of thousands of products are still awaiting the process, are in process or haven’t yet received responses. Health Canada doesn’t care.

This law shuts down the natural health care market in Canada. Ask yourself who benefits if the alternative health care industry is shut down? Whose medications are left on the shelves?

It’s time to take action. Contact http://naturalhealthfreedomcanada.com/ and find out what you can do about it.


Health Canada’s shrewd takeover of the natural health industry

Thank you Common Ground and Nick Mancuso [What is Health Canada Up To? by Nick Mancuso, August 2012] for taking up the challenge and writing and printing the truth behind Health Canada’s shrewd takeover of the natural health industry.

Under the guise of looking out for the ‘safety’ of Canadians, Health Canada has, in fact, shut down the freedom to choose for Canadian citizens by having exclusive power over product approval. The natural health products industry has risen above scepticism with legitimate research into some of the most innovative products worldwide, maintained growth through economic turmoil and provided answers and help when the medical model with its prescription drugs and/or surgery has failed the Canadian public.

Suppliers in this country are at their wits end trying to comply with the regulations and fees imposed by the government; products are required to be reformulated (often lacking key ingredients) and labels are changing at an alarming rate to accommodate the various claims and subsequent cautions that must be shown on the product. Has anybody died as a result of a natural health product? No. Never. There has never been a death attributed to a natural health product in this country. Statistically, you are more likely to have an anaphylactic reaction to nuts, shellfish and prescription drugs. Natural health products do not belong in the drug category and ought not be regulated nor treated as such.

As a retailer trying to offer the absolute best products for my customers, I must make this plea to all suppliers, fellow retailers and consumers: Please help us to unite in this awareness. The reality is we have been complying with this process for over seven years now and there is no logic to the manner in which Health Canada is accepting or rejecting natural product numbers (NPNs). The greatest farce is that ‘over the counter’ pharmaceuticals like Crest toothpaste, Tums, Rolaids, Nicorette gum and Covergirl makeup all carry an NPN. How ridiculous is that? Can these products even compare to the quality, ingredients, purity and wholesomeness of anything that is natural? How did we let this happen to our precious industry when we have worked so hard to prove our products are effective and safe for all people and most importantly, the sick?

The next threat to our livelihood is that the rules of this unfair game will continue to change based on random criteria. Currently, digestive enzymes and probiotics, the essences of life, are being scrutinized as to whether their NPNs ought to be revoked. How are we to stop this atrocity once it is happening because of unfounded reasons?

As I watch the flood of cautions now listed on the various products that traditionally have caused no harm, it saddens me that, despite my noblest efforts to explain the new requirements, I also watch the customer reading them and putting the bottle or box back on the shelf.

As wholistic people, we can and must come together and rise above the prevailing domination Health Canada has over our ability to manufacture, sell and ultimately choose natural health products. Please share your success story with supplements, reveal your hardships dealing with Health Canada and communicate what this issue means to you. By supporting your local health food store and their exclusive products, you may save the products that protect you and keep your body free of disease.

Know that there are changing rules and product seizures taking place that are unfounded and unlawful. Let your government know that you want to preserve your freedom to choose. Follow this magazine and Nick Mancuso’s PowerHealthRadio.com for up to date coverage of these issues as they unfold.

– Lucy Miller, owner, The Healthy Hut (Cochrane) Ltd., www.thehealthyhut.ca

Editors note: By forcing health products to have “warnings” on them, it normalizes the real warnings on some other products that can be dangerous, such as alcohol and tobacco and thus dilutes the importance of the message, playing into the hands of big corporations such as Big Pharma.


Health store owners afraid to speak out

As a stakeholder in the natural health industry, I am very disappointed with all the health food store owners who will not support their own industry by warning their customers that thousands of excellent natural products are under serious threat of being banned for sale by Health Canada.

One would think we suppliers would be heroes in their eyes for all the Health Canada land mines we have had to avoid just to keep some of these products on their shelves. Not so.

As an example, I am no longer welcome at one major health food store chain in Manitoba – for the capital crime of encouraging their customers, during a demo, to write the Health Minister and their MP to ask why their favourite natural health supplement was no longer available. I was told by the owners they do not want to become politically involved and that their health food store was not a venue to discuss this.

What, then, is the “proper venue”? Do consumers not have the right to know? Will the time to discuss this be after all the pharmaceutical corporations buy up the natural health industry bit by bit, denaturing the products, and the real health foods go the way of the dodo bird?

– Rose Stevens, Holistic Practitioner, Manitoba


Stop the clock from ticking
Delay the Feb 4, 2013 deadline for UPLAR

Health Canada having the final say on the food or medicine we choose is a step backwards for society, I believe.

I hear from health food store staff, owners and their customers they have no idea what is going on, which is very unfortunate. Unless people take action quickly to stop Health Canada in its tracks, I believe it will be a giant step backward for people in Canada. I know most of you reading this have no idea what is going on, and for those of you who do, you have received a very mixed message.

Without understanding the details, you will no longer have any say in your choice of medicine or food. What about your personal right to choose what goes in your body?

Will Canadians be healthier or safer if the only products available to them are ones that Health Canada has deemed acceptable? No offence, but this scares the crap out of me. (Ed. Note: It is not the health food industry that lobbies Health Canada the most. It is Big Pharma.)

It is as if we have only one company to buy from: ‘Health Canada Inc.’ Already, it has either ‘forced’ manufacturers of proven helpful products to change their products or removed them from shelves in Canada.

What to do? Other than freak out and get mad?

All I can think of is bury Health Canada, your local MP and Stephen Harper with letters. This old-fashioned method does get attention. Along with this, make a personal visit to your MP to make him/her aware of how you feel.

We apparently have one recourse as citizens: write letters in overwhelming numbers to government offices to delay the February 2013 Natural Health Products Unprocessed Product Licence Applications Regulations (UPLAR) deadline. We must speak to our MPs and make it very clear government has no role in deciding what we eat or use as medicine.

It may not end with this, but a delay is what is needed now. They are a persistent lot, I will give them that.

If they want regulations, the only one I see necessary to ensure public safety is manufacturing regulations. In Canada, we have one of the highest standards of manufacturing of natural health products in the world. As a consumer, I want to ensure the product is under acceptable levels of contamination and I want to see the list of ingredients in case I have a religious, health, personal or cultural preference. Period.

At press time, Health Canada is still deciding whether or not to enforce, in February of 2013, its regulations that would allow only products with an approved NPN # to be sold across Canada.

If so, as of February 2013:

Health Canada will control your personal choices about the food and medicine you put in your body.

Health Canada will demand every natural health product have an approved NPN licence to be sold in retail stores in Canada.

Health Canada will use enforcement to ensure retailers do not sell unapproved products. Selling an unapproved product could result in a $5-million fine or two years in jail.

Health Canada will be the only source for product approval. Health Canada alone will determine whether a product is safe or effective. No matter whether a product has been sold safely for decades or is easily available cross border or online, Health Canada can remove it from health food store shelves.

Canadian retailers will still be able to sell proven unsafe products like cigarettes, alcohol, peanuts, shellfish, junk food, artificial flavours, dyes and high sugar drinks without any concern over enforcement for selling these unsafe, unhealthy products.

Canadian doctors will still be prescribing proven harmful pharmaceutical drugs sold through Canadian pharmacies without any concern over enforcement even though those drugs do kill people.

Health Canada will control the food you eat and the medicine you use.

I believe Thomas Jefferson said it best: “If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson (1762-1821), Third president of the USA, author of the Declaration of Independence.

I find it very unfortunate so few Canadians know this is happening. Will we be the people that have unwittingly allowed Health Canada to take control of our food and medicine?

Mark February 4th, 2013 on your calendar and take control of your own health. To find out more about your eroding health freedom choices, visit http://www.powerhealthradio.com/natural_health_canada.html

– Deane Parkes, president of Preferred Nutrition, www.pno.ca


It’s time for a revolution in natural medicine
Will you take a stand?

It is an illusion that dietary supplements, herbs, homeopathic medicines are dangerous. The fact is they prevent illness, build up our immune systems and save lives. If you believe in these micronutrients and you know they work, why would you not stand up and protect them for our children?

We are very caring people, mostly women who work on the front lines in health stores across North America. We care deeply about our customers and patients.

Many of us make a meagre wage, but we give 100 percent to each person who comes through the door. This is the most rewarding work to help someone heal and recover to achieve a better quality of life. We should all be proud as an industry. None of us have ever hurt, maimed or killed any of our clients, unlike artificial drugs that have done so to millions of our loved ones.

Yet we stand by helplessly as our livelihoods and the products that keep Canadians healthy are being taken away. I feel our industry is going to have to go through a revolution and our goal must be to wake every Canadian up.

Most consumers are completely unaware of the travesty going on via a complete mass media blackout so we must educate them and empower the industry to realize we have solutions.

My dear friend and colleague Dr. Eldon Dahl ND has only served the people, by providing safe high potency, natural dietary supplements to other NDs across Canada, yet he may be serving two years in jail. Can you all sit by and let this happen? You know if we do not stop this injustice, you could be next. Trust me, this has been going on in the US for many years. Innocent people like you and I are in jail in the US for developing and selling proven, safe herbal or micro nutrients. If we allow *UPLAR to pass, we can say goodbye to our freedom about our health choices.

I believe in this industry. I believe in the dedicated people working with Natural Health Freedom Canada. These are some of the most courageous, fearless, strong and driven leaders, especially NHFC executive director Marilyn Nelson, who is one of the most altruistic intelligent and compassionate women I have ever known.

Natural Health Freedom Canada has the solutions and has been working for years to finally be at this place, to do the best work we have ever done to protect our rights and freedoms.

As a mother, healer and health freedom advocate, I beg you all to please stand with us, join our cause, your cause and support our legal injunction. Please value what we have put on the line for you all.

Donate now on Pay Pal. Get behind our legal injunction. Support our political/public campaign across Canada.

NHFC has the solutions. Get educated and empowered at www.natur alhealthfreedomcanada.com. If health freedom is important to you and your loved ones, support upcoming legal and public campaigns. Sign on to NHFC’s newsletter and blog. If you have questions or want to help, join the “Contact Us” page. Donations can be made via Pay Pal on the site or send cheques and money orders payable to: Natural Health Freedom Canada, 8931 78th Ave. Edmonton, Alberta, T6C 0N7.

– Candace Hill-Trevena, co-founder of Natural Health Freedom Canada. www.naturalhealthfreedomcanada.com

*Natural Health Products Unprocessed Product Licence Applications Regulations.

My food, my medicine, my choice

by Adam Sealey

• Do you believe your government has your best interests at heart when it comes to the health of you and your family? From my personal experience and that of many others, it’s clear our government is in a deep conflict of interest and has never been more corrupt and contradictory in its actions than it is today. It’s time we stand up as citizens and demand two things of our government.

Firstly, we must demand that Health Canada cease its witchhunt of safe and time-tested, effective natural health products. Secondly, we must also demand that a proper label appear on all untested genetically modified foods so people can make an informed choice and avoid the serious potential risks inherent in these “Frankenfoods.” In the US presidential election this fall, California’s Proposition 37 seeks to do just that: to finally label GMO foods. We need the same here in Canada, now.

There has been only one study on GMO foods with human subjects and it raised serious concerns. No follow up studies have been done. Several studies have been done on lab rats that showed the rats that were fed GMO foods suffered damage to their DNA and RNA as well as to their internal organs. And yet these foods are deemed safe and no labelling is required in Canada or the US while nearly every other country in the world requires that they be labelled. Are we the human lab rats?

It’s time to wake up, get up and demand “Our Food, Our Medicine, Our Choice!”

Every doctor can state the Hippocratic Oath they must take: “First, do no harm.” But do these doctors and our governments follow this creed? Let’s look at an example of the blatant violation of this oath and the corruption at Health Canada with the true story of TrueHope.

When Anthony Stephan tragically lost his first wife to suicide, he was driven to find out why. He learned she was deficient in the proper nutrients, vitamins and minerals, which led to severe depression. He subsequently developed a multi vitamin and mineral formula and named it EmpowerPlus. Thousands of Canadians found relief from depression, bipolar disorder, OCD and other conditions. Sales skyrocketed and people got their lives back together. Five studies done out of the University of Calgary and Harvard showed conclusively that the product was both safe and effective. In July of 2003, Health Canada halted all shipments of EmpowerPlus at the US/Canada border citing it had no DIN number, which under the Act was no longer required. Health Canada set up a 1-800 crisis line for people suffering without their medicine. Many people smuggled the product over the border.

In March of 2004, Dr. James Lunney, a Conservative MP from Vancouver Island pleaded with the Minister of Health to grant an exemption to TrueHope for this life-saving product. It was granted and product began to flow again. Today, EmpowerPlus has 19 published studies showing it to be safe and effective – more studies than any other natural health formula in Canada. EmpowerPlus has an NPN# (license) and yet Health Canada continues with its vendetta to put them out of business. TrueHope took Health Canada to court to ensure that, in future, people have the right to choose their vital medications, whatever they might be. But now Health Canada is after TrueHope Nutritional Support Ltd. again, seeking to recover their court costs in the case and more and shut down and silence the non-profit that offers counselling, support and in some cases free product to poor and mentally ill people who would otherwise have no other option. Health Canada wants to make an example of them to discourage anyone else from standing up for their rights. The court has yet to grant the public the right to witness this case in court. If it does, the hearings will start on December 10 in the Federal Court in Calgary. Please lend your support in whichever way you can in this crucial decision, for you, for me, for Canada, for health freedom.

TrueHope has been told by Health Canada that it can’t talk about the benefits of its products or its published studies, contrary to Section 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which grants all Canadians the right to freedom of expression. You and I have the right to put anything into our bodies, as ruled by the Supreme Court of Canada, unless it’s an illegal and controlled substance. Are vitamins, minerals, herbs and enzymes illegal? Not yet.

Since 2004, against the wishes of the Canadian Parliament and the Canadian public, we have had Health Canada (HC) and their Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) forcing NHP producers to water down their safe and effective product formulations, put unnecessary warning labels on them and deny NHP licenses with often no scientific basis other than “expert opinion” all under the guise of “protecting the health and safety of Canadians” as goes their mantra. Health Canada’s approach, as in the TrueHope case, is causing harm to the natural health industry and to the people who rely on these world-class health supplements. It talks a lot about risk vs. benefit, but it doesn’t apply the same rigors to genetically modified foods (GMOs), products that are full of artificial dyes and chemicals, or to drugs. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs kill about 20,000 Canadians a year, according to an article published by Conservative MP, Terrance Young whose daughter died from a drug called Prepulsid. When will you have had enough of this?

In 2001, I injured my shoulder and biceps tendon while white water kayaking and was enthusiastically prescribed Vioxx by my doctor to deal with the inflammation. It made me feel very sick. In 2005, I cut my leg while rock climbing and developed an infection for which I was given Ciprofloxacin. I didn’t know what else to do. Five years later, I read that this class of antibiotics is known to cause many problems, including tendon rupture, tissue wasting and too many serious problems to even list here. Many people have had the same experiences. I visited UBC Sports Medicine Centre in 2010 and was diagnosed with cartilage damage to the talus joint in my foot as well as a partial tear of my supraspinatus tendon. Could the Cipro have done this? It’s quite likely. Vioxx was found to be responsible for the death of tens of thousands of people and major lawsuits have resulted.

Former Health Canada senior drug reviewer Dr. Michele Brill-Edwards, who resigned in disgust at the direction of the agency, told the Globe and Mail in 1997, “It’s becoming more and more evident that the department considers that the client of Health Canada is not the Canadian citizen, who has a right to know about the benefits and risks of a drug. They consider the client to be the [pharmaceutical] industry.”

In 2004, the Stephen Harper campaign had this to say about natural health products in the “One Conservative Voice” campaign platform document: “A Stephen Harper government will pass Dr. James Lunney’s Bill C-420 to regulate NHPs as food-style rather than drug-style products.” He also states “health care is a provincial jurisdiction.”

Mr. Harper, do you need some Ginkgo Biloba to stimulate your memory? Soon, you’ll need a doctor’s prescription like in the EU where such things are basically illegal without it. Oh, wait, doctors don’t know anything about herbs. Never mind.

Write or call your Member of Parliament today and demand that GMO foods be labelled and that the NHPD and Health Canada stop their charter rights violating attack on safe and effective natural health products by suspending the current regulations until an independent review is conducted. Visit www.cban.ca and http://www.carighttoknow.org/ to learn about labelling of GMO foods. Also see www.naturalhealthfreedomcanada.com and www.powerhealthradio.com to learn how to preserve your right to choose your natural health care options.

Adam Sealey is a health freedom activist who is deeply concerned about the looming loss of our natural and holistic healthcare options and basic freedoms. He is still in recovery from the damaging effects of pharmaceutical prescription anti-biotic and anti-inflammatory drugs. He can be reached at siddartha069@yahoo.com

We need our pollinators

bird pollinator

by Alastair Gregor

 

• Our pollinators are being poisoned and the birds that eat these insects are being poisoned too. We need the pollinators – bees, beetles, moths, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds – because 80 percent of our foods are dependent on them. Yet they are disappearing and need our help.

Farms in North America use over 5.1 billion pounds of pesticides annually. The chemicals are in the air we breathe; frequently sprayed by planes, they are carried off in the wind, poisoning surrounding land, forested areas and our water supply. (Get informed at www.PesticideFreeBC.org)

These pesticides are killing good and bad insects, and regardless of whether or not they are organic or conventional pesticides, they still kill. Today, systemic pesticides are used, which cannot be washed off the food we eat. Systemic means if you spray one part of the plant, the entire plant becomes toxic and kills insects for up to 15 years; it also toxifies other organisms that eat any part of the plant and the fruit it produces. These toxins remain in the soil and build up over time killing the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. (http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/systemic-pesticides-zm0z10zrog.aspx)

We are experiencing the sharpest rise in cancer, diabetes and other adult onset diseases than ever before. There is hardly anyone who doesn’t know someone who is struggling with these diseases and they almost all derive from our food sources. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

In BC, you can find out how to plant a pollinator friendly garden from West Coast expert Linda Gilkeson, PhD, at her website www.lindagilkeson.ca You can also check out the Master Gardeners Association of BC’s website and learn how to attract pollinators to your garden. The organization has an excellent brochure on planting native BC nectar plants. (www.mgabc.org/content/attracting-pollinators-your-garden)

There are four main ways you can help pollinators: 1) Don’t use pesticides on your lawn or flowers or anywhere – not even organic ones – because bioaccumulation occurs in pollen and harms your bees. People spray for mosquitoes and ants, but those chemicals kill beneficial bugs, too. For instance, mosquitoes pollinate chocolate trees. 2) Plant large patches of flowers. Concentrate on plants that are native to your region and try to plan a garden with blooms throughout the year so pollinators always have a good nectar source. 3) Provide nesting sites for pollinators. These can be in the form of a bee house or un-mulched places in your garden (bare patches of dirt, piles of leaves, etc.) Avoid the use of mulching and ground cover cloth because 70 percent of native bees nest in the ground and need access to bare ground to complete their life cycle. They cannot work through artificial ground fabrics. 4) Talk to your neighbours, friends and family about pollinators and pollinator-friendly gardening practices. Some might find it hard to strike up a conversation with neighbours about something like pesticide use. If you display signage in your garden showing you don’t use pesticides or that you are working to create a pollinator habitat, it might be a good way to start the conversation with your neighbours.

The two best places I would suggest for more information are the Pollinator Partnership (www.pollinator.org) and (www.xerces.org). The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. The new book, Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies may be purchased on their website. Lastly, watch The Beauty of Pollination at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHkq1edcbk4

Alastair Gregor writes the Good Eats column in Common Ground. Look for it again in the October issue. alastair@commonground.ca

GM sweet corn kills bugs

GM Sweetcorn kills bugs

but is it tasty on the BBQ?

by Lucy Sharratt

Generally, if our food kills living organisms, it is viewed as a negative. For Monsanto, however, this feature is a great new selling point. New genetically engineered (also called genetically modified or GM) sweet corn designed to kill insect pests is now being harvested across Canada. Of course, without labelling, we need to conduct our own investigations to learn where GM sweet corn is being sold.

Until last fall, there was only one US seed company selling a limited number of GM sweet corn varieties from Syngenta, to farmers in Ontario and Quebec. Now, Monsanto, the largest seed company in the world, has introduced three varieties of GM insect resistant, herbicide tolerant sweet corn. Across Canada, the first GM vegetable has hit some, but not all grocery stores and farmers markets.

Sobeys grocery chain (in Eastern Canada) has confirmed to the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network that they have no GM fresh sweet corn in their stores. At the time of publication, however, Loblaws and Metro had yet to comment on the status of their fresh sweet corn supply. Whole Foods Market has also pledged to keep GM sweet corn out, but Walmart says it won’t be looking for a non-GM supply. Farmers selling at local farmers markets could also be selling GM sweet corn. As Monsanto’s vice president of its global vegetable business told the LA Times in August 2011, “Given how sweet corn is normally sold – by the ear, in larger bins in produce sections of the market – it’s not really something that can be easily branded.”

GM corn has been one of the four major GM crops grown in the world – along with canola, soy and cotton – but, until now, this was mostly hard corn used for processed food ingredients and animal feed. Different corn varieties have different qualities and are grown for different reasons. There are no GM popcorn varieties on the market, for example.

GM sweet corn will be the first GM insect resistant (Bt) crop in the world to be widely consumed as a whole, unprocessed food. While GM soy, corn, canola and cotton are used in many processed food ingredients, GM fruits and vegetables (with the possible exception of some U.S-. grown squash varieties and papaya) have yet to make it to the produce section of Canadian grocery stores. Monsanto removed its insect resistant potato from the North American market in 1995 because of consumer pressure. Last year in India, Monsanto’s Bt eggplant was stopped and while GM tomatoes are iconic GM foods, they barely made it onto shelves and have not been seen since 1998. (For an updated list see, see www.cban.ca/gmfoods ))

Monsanto’s GM sweet corn is both insect resistant and herbicide tolerant. This means that the new GM sweet corn can be also sprayed more often with Monsanto’s herbicide called Roundup. Monsanto calls its new sweet corn the “Performance Series” and the varieties are sold to farmers with names like Temptation II, Obsession II and Passion II.

Monsanto’s GM sweet corn is engineered to be toxic to particular insects. The GM technology transforms the corn plant into a pesticide. In fact, the toxin from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, is expressed in every cell of the plant including the corn kernels. If certain insects, including the European corn borers, corn earworms, fall army worms and corn rootworm larvae, try to eat the corn, they will die. The Bt toxin attaches to receptors in the gut of some insects, rupturing the gut and killing the insect.

Health Canada approved the use of different GM insect resistant (Bt) and herbicide tolerant traits in corn between 1995 and 2011. However, none of these safety assessments explicitly evaluated the consumption of GM corn as sweet corn. Instead, Health Canada assumed the dietary exposure of Canadians would be limited to GM field corn used for animal feed and processed food ingredients. Canadians have no way of knowing how extensively Monsanto has studied safety questions relating to human consumption of sweet corn/whole, unprocessed kernels. Such studies remain “Confidential Business Information” and Health Canada does not conduct its own safety tests, such as animal feeding trials.

While Monsanto is right that “Bt protein comes from a helpful, naturally occurring bacteria that is often used as an insecticide by organic farmers,” spraying Bt on plants is entirely different from splicing Bt genes into the plants, which then become toxic. Studies show the Bt toxin protein is not always fully broken down in the gut and a comparative analysis of available data conducted by researchers in France shows that three Monsanto GM corn varieties (two of which were Bt) show signs of toxicity in rat feeding trials, affecting the immune system, liver and kidneys. (de Vendomois et al, “A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health,” International Journal of Biological Sciences, 2009). The researchers conclude, “These substances have never before been an integral part of the human or animal diet and therefore their health consequences for those who consume them, especially over long time periods are currently unknown.”

Last year, researchers at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec found significant levels of the Bt protein in the blood of pregnant women and in the blood supply of foetuses. Though the detection method used in the study is being questioned, this and other research results need to be investigated through long-term studies. In the meantime, Syngenta is facing new criminal charges for concealing the results of a 1996 company study on a Bt corn that was shut down when four cows died after just two days of consuming the GM corn. Ten years after his initial court case, German farmer Gottfried Gloeckner is charging that the company withheld information about a known link to animal mortality.

Lucy Sharratt is the coordinator at Canadian Biotechnology Action Network www.cban.ca

Label GMOs

California leads with Proposition 37
by Phil Watson

• The battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labelling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already pouring into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills.

“As California goes, so goes the nation” and Monsanto knows this very well. That is precisely why its coalition of dozens of chemical, biotech, agri-business and huge food conglomerates have dumped over $24 million to squash the California Genetically Modified Food Right to Know Act in November. This California ballot measure was originally inspired by a northern California housewife concerned about the health impacts of GMOs on her family and future generations. A burgeoning movement of citizens, organic farmers, natural food producers, health food stores, public health organizations and environmental groups joined together to put Proposition 37 on the ballot to defend our right to know what’s in our food.

The stated purpose of the Act found in Section 2 is “to create and enforce the fundamental right of the people of California to be fully informed about whether the food they purchase and eat is genetically engineered and not misbranded as natural so that they can choose for themselves whether to purchase and eat such foods.”

Among its findings and declarations are the following statements:

Genetic engineering of plants and animals often causes unintended consequences. Manipulating genes and inserting them into organisms is an imprecise process. The results are not always predictable or controllable and they can lead to adverse health or environmental consequences.

Government scientists have stated that the artificial insertion of DNA into plants, a technique unique to genetic engineering, can cause a variety of significant problems with plant foods. Such genetic engineering can increase the levels of known toxicants in foods and introduce new toxicants and health concerns.

Fifty countries, including the European Union member states, Japan and other key US trading partners, have laws mandating disclosure of genetically engineered foods. No international agreements prohibit the mandatory identification of foods produced through genetic engineering.

Organic farmers are prohibited from using genetically engineered seeds. Nonetheless, these farmers’ crops are regularly threatened with accidental contamination from neighbouring lands where genetically engineered crops abound. This risk of contamination can erode public confidence in California’s organic products, significantly undermining this industry. Californians should have the choice to avoid purchasing foods whose production could harm the state’s organic farmers and its organic foods industry.

Polls consistently show that more than 90 percent of the public want to know if their food was produced using genetic engineering.

The full text of the Act can be found at CA-Right-to-Know-Initiative12.pdf

Meanwhile, over at ‘GMO Central,’ Monsanto has recently posted a web article called Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, The California Labeling Proposal, explaining why the biotech giant opposes the initiative (with a single donation of $4.2 million so far). According to Michele Simon, a public health lawyer writing for the Huffington Post, the Monsanto missive is “riddled with deception and outright falsehoods about the initiative and its proponents.” In her article Top 10 Lies Told by Monsanto on GMO Labeling in California, Lie #8 says, “Beneath their right to know slogan is a deceptive marketing campaign aimed at stigmatizing modern food production.”

See the full article at www.huffingtonpost.com

Much will be at stake on November 8 when California voters make their choice on Prop. 37. If it succeeds, it will very likely have a domino effect for labelling GMOs in other US states and in Canada as well.

Join the campaign to demand labelling of GMO foods at www.carighttoknow.org Visit www.commonground.ca for additional information about Prop. 37.

The Law of Least Effort

Deepak Chopra

by Deepak Chopra

 

• If you observe nature at work, you will see that the least effort is expended. Grass doesn’t try to grow, it just grows. Fish don’t try to swim, they just swim. Flowers don’t try to bloom, they bloom. Birds don’t try to fly, they fly. This is their intrinsic nature. The Earth doesn’t try to spin on its own axis; it is the nature of the Earth to spin with dizzying speed and to hurtle through space. It is the nature of babies to be in bliss. It is the nature of the Sun to shine. It is the nature of the stars to glitter and sparkle. And it is human nature to make our dreams manifest into physical form, easily and effortlessly.

In Vedic Science, the age-old philosophy of India, this principle is known as the principle of economy of effort, or “do less and accomplish more.” Ultimately, you come to the state where you do nothing and accomplish everything. This means that there is just a faint idea and then the manifestation of the idea comes about effortlessly. What is commonly called a “miracle” is actually an expression of the “Law of Least Effort.”

Nature’s intelligence functions effortlessly, frictionlessly, spontaneously. It is non-linear; it is intuitive, holistic and nourishing. And when you are in harmony with nature, when you are established in the knowledge of your true Self, you can make use of the Law of Least Effort.

Least effort is expended when your actions are motivated by love because nature is held together by the energy of love. When you seek power and control over other people, you waste energy. When you seek money or power for the sake of the ego, you spend energy chasing the illusion of happiness instead of enjoying happiness in the moment. When you seek money for personal gain only, you cut off the flow of energy to yourself and interfere with the expression of nature’s intelligence. But when your actions are motivated by love, there is no waste of energy. When your actions are motivated by love, your energy multiplies and accumulates – and the surplus energy you gather and enjoy can be channelled to create anything that you want, including unlimited wealth.

You can think of your physical body as a device for controlling energy: it can generate, store and expend energy. If you know how to generate, store and expend energy in an efficient way, then you can create any amount of wealth. Attention to the ego consumes the greatest amount of energy. When your internal reference point is the ego, when you seek power and control over other people or seek approval from others, you spend energy in a wasteful way.

When that energy is freed up, it can be rechannelled and used to create anything that you want. When your internal reference point is your spirit, when you are immune to criticism and unfearful of any challenge, you can harness the power of love and use energy creatively for the experience of affluence and evolution.

Acceptance

There are three components to the Law of Least Effort – three things you can do to put this principle of “do less and accomplish more” into action. The first component is acceptance. Acceptance simply means that you make a commitment: “Today, I will accept people, situations, circumstances and events as they occur.” This means I will know that this moment is as it should be, because the whole universe is as it should be. This moment – the one you’re experiencing right now – is the culmination of all the moments you have experienced in the past. This moment is as it is because the entire universe is as it is.

When you struggle against this moment, you’re actually struggling against the entire universe. Instead, you can make the decision that today you will not struggle against the whole universe by struggling against this moment. This means that your acceptance of this moment is total and complete. You accept things as they are, not as you wish they were in this moment. This is important to understand. You can wish for things in the future to be different, but in this moment you have to accept things as they are.

When you feel frustrated or upset by a person or a situation, remember that you are not reacting to the person or the situation, but to your feelings about the person or the situation. These are your feelings and your feelings are not someone else’s fault. When you recognize and understand this completely, you are ready to take responsibility for how you feel and to change it. And if you can accept things as they are, you are ready to take responsibility for your situation and for all the events you see as problems.

Responsibility

This leads us to the second component of the Law of Least Effort: responsibility. What does responsibility mean? Responsibility means not blaming anyone or anything for your situation, including yourself. Having accepted this circumstance, this event, this problem, responsibility then means the ability to have a creative response to the situation as it is now. All problems contain the seeds of opportunity and this awareness allows you to take the moment and transform it to a better situation or thing.

Once you do this, every so-called upsetting situation will become an opportunity for the creation of something new and beautiful and every so-called tormentor or tyrant will become your teacher. Reality is an interpretation. And if you choose to interpret reality in this way, you will have many teachers around you and many opportunities to evolve.

Whenever confronted by a tyrant, tormentor, teacher, friend or foe (they all mean the same thing) remind yourself, “This moment is as it should be.” Whatever relationships you have attracted in your life at this moment are precisely the ones you need in your life at this moment. There is a hidden meaning behind all events and this hidden meaning is serving your own evolution.

Defencelessness

The third component of the Law of Least Effort is defencelessness, which means that your awareness is established in defencelessness and you have relinquished the need to convince or persuade others of your point of view. If you observe people around you, you’ll see that they spend 99 percent of their time defending their points of view. If you just relinquish the need to defend your point of view, you will, in that relinquishment, gain access to enormous amounts of energy that have been previously wasted.

When you become defensive, blame others and do not accept and surrender to the moment, your life meets resistance. Any time you encounter resistance, recognize that, if you force the situation, the resistance will only increase. You don’t want to stand rigid like a tall oak that cracks and collapses in the storm. Instead, you want to be flexible, like a reed that bends with the storm and survives.

Completely desist from defending your point of view. When you have no point to defend, you do not allow the birth of an argument. If you do this consistently – if you stop fighting and resisting – you will fully experience the present, which is a gift. Someone once told me, “The past is history, the future is a mystery and this moment is a gift. That is why this moment is called ‘the present’.”

If you embrace the present and become one with it and merge with it, you will experience a fire, a glow, a sparkle of ecstasy throbbing in every living sentient being. As you begin to experience this exultation of spirit in everything that is alive, as you become intimate with it, joy will be born within you and you will drop the terrible burdens and encumbrances of defensiveness, resentment and hurtfulness. Only then will you become lighthearted, carefree, joyous and free.

See Deepak Chopra in Vancouver at The Seed Event, October 13, at the PNE Forum. Deepak presents “The Future of Wellbeing.” www.seedevent.org

Health and the environment

Portrait of David Suzuki

SCIENCE MATTERS by David Suzuki

• Preventing illness is the best way to get healthcare costs down. So why aren’t governments doing more to protect the environment? We’ve long known environmental factors contribute to disease, especially contamination of air, water and soil. Scientists are now learning the connection is stronger than we realized.

New research shows 60 percent of emerging infectious diseases affecting humans – those that rapidly increase in incidence or geographic range – starts with animals, two thirds from wild animals. Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Ebola, SARS and AIDS are just a few of the hundreds of epidemics that have spread from animals to people. A study by the International Livestock Research Institute concludes more than two million people a year are killed by diseases that originated with wild and domestic animals. Many more become ill.

According to an article in the New York Times, “Emerging diseases have quadrupled in the last half-century.” The increase is mainly due to human encroachment into wildlife habitat and its destruction. For example, one study concluded a four percent increase in Amazon deforestation led to a 50 percent increase in malaria because mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, thrive in the cleared areas.

Another example from the article shows how interconnected life is. Development in North America has destroyed or fragmented forests and chased many predators away. This has led to a huge increase in white-footed mice, which carry Lyme bacteria. The mice are not good at removing ticks and their larvae and so the ticks pick up bacteria from the mice and spread it to other mammals, including humans. Because the number of Lyme-infected ticks has multiplied, more are transferring the disease to humans.

Global warming is adding to the problem. A study in the journal Nature, “Impact of regional climate change on human health,” notes heart attacks and respiratory illness, due to heat waves, altered transmission of infectious diseases and malnutrition from crop failures can be linked to a warming planet. Research has also shown that warming ocean waters are increasing the incidence of waterborne illnesses, including those caused by toxic bacteria in shellfish.

The World Bank estimates a severe influenza pandemic could cost the world economy $3 trillion. Environment Canada says air pollution alone costs the Canadian economy billions of dollars a year.

A key solution, according to One Health Initiative, is to look at the links between human, animal and ecological health and to manage our activities in a sustainable and holistic way. The US-based initiative is bringing experts in human, animal and environmental health together to study these links. Another promising area of research is natural capital evaluation. Forests and green spaces filter water and store carbon. Urban green spaces provide cooling and protection from storms. And ecosystems in balance help protect us from disease outbreaks.

With the world’s human population now at seven billion and growing and the demand for technology and modern conveniences increasing, we can’t control all our negative impacts. But we have to find better ways to live within the limits nature and its cycles impose. Our physical health and survival and the health of our economies depend on it.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

VIFF docs expose the dark side of corporate America

FILMS WORTH WATCHING by Robert Alstead

Bitter Seeds documentary
From Bitter Seeds, Teddy Bear Films, www.teddybearfilms.com

In Bitter Seeds, Micha X. Peled reveals an appalling statistic: a farmer in India commits suicide every half-hour. The documentary, showing at the Vancouver International Film Festival (September 27-October 12), puts a human face on this ongoing tragedy with its intimate portrait of a poor farming community in India’s interior. Most of India’s cotton farmers now use seeds manufactured with Monsanto’s proprietary Bollgard technology. “BT means big buds,” say the sales people, waving their pamphlets. But, for farmers, it also means the risk of a large financial outlay, punitive interest rates on loans, low yields and dependence on Monsanto seeds, which are genetically modified to terminate at the end of each year.

The film follows a young female student journalist from the village, whose father killed himself, as she seeks answers to this epidemic of suicides. We also meet a father of three, with desperation in his eyes, who mortgages his three acres to take the GMO cotton gambit. Crisp visuals evoke the day-to-day rigours of impoverished, but peaceful, village life, as well as the underlying strain today’s global agro-economy is placing on small farmers.

With similar themes, Swiss documentary Bottled Life focuses on Nestlé’s water business. A multi-national corporation profiting from commodification of a free resource levers the law to push aside local resistance to its projects while currying favour with lawmakers through a PR blitz. The globetrotting doc offers fascinating insights into Nestlé’s modus operandi, from its unquenchable thirst for water rights to the launch of “fashionable,” bottled water brands into markets in Pakistan, Nigeria and North America. Director Urs Schnell, who can be heard occasionally, should have narrated himself instead of using an English-speaking actor for voice-over and he talks too much about he was stonewalled requesting an interview. Stylistic quibbles aside, this has some strong material and it is a good news story about how one community successfully stood up to Nestlé when its aquifer was threatened.

Corporate America is again under fire in We’re Not Broke, one of a clutch of films at VIFF capturing recent citizen unrest in the US. Corporate America, from Apple to Pfizer, is a big tax dodger, siphoning profits offshore and often paying zero or negative US tax. Snappy editing of media images, activist actions and expert commentary shows how the richest multinationals have moved the goal posts. Highly watchable, with memorable lines like “If you take Bermuda out of the equation, $100 gets knocked off Google’s share price.”

In Krisis, 14 photojournalists offer visually rich perspectives from different ends of the political spectrum on the current socio-economic breakdown in Greece. While illuminating, with so many voices, the story lacks an anchor and it’s difficult to appreciate where the talked of “renaissance” will come from. Maybe that’s where Velcrow Ripper’s Occupy Love (previewed in March) comes in?

The Invisible War is a searing indictment of the US military’s stance on the systemic problem of rape, which has been ignored and suppressed by the top brass. Worse than that, serial rapists have been allowed to strike repeatedly within the closed system of the military, while victims who have stepped up have felt the full force of institutionalized indifference and prejudice bear down on them. An incredible exposé.

Very different is Survival Prayer, a meditative piece with extreme close-ups and lingering shots that records the characters, native rituals and myths on Haida Gwaii. Foodies will appreciate the focus on foraging and watching salmon being caught, gutted, hung, dried and smoked the traditional Haida way.

Robert Alstead writes at www.2020Vancouver.com.

Life unfolding

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young

Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
– Max Ehrmann

Much of our frustration with life comes when things do not go according to plan. We plan an outing and it rains, we do not get the job we hoped for, the relationship ends or illness happens. “This wasn’t supposed to happen!” we say with dismay.

Like a child stacking up blocks, ego has a vision in mind and admires what it is creating. When the tower suddenly collapses, ego collapses too. There may be sadness, disappointment, anger, a sense of betrayal and unfairness, even utter devastation. Ego feels victimized and goes into contraction.

It is interesting to consider how the little child reacts to the blocks tumbling down. Isn’t it true that most toddlers love it? They know a force outside of their control is eventually going to act on their little project. The game is to see how high they can build it before it falls. Sometimes, they like the falling part so much they will actually make it fall and delight in starting anew.

These children are little Buddhas. They know how it works and decide to have fun with it. They do not get attached to what they are building. They seem to know it is the process of building and rebuilding that is important, not the end result. We could learn from them.

There is so much in life over which we have no control. A surfer has no control at all over the waves, but he can develop the ability to ride them. Similarly, life is less stressful when we understand it is about how we deal with challenges that is important, not hoping we do not have any, at least no big ones.

Imagine people were put into groups and they all had to build something with identical raw materials. They were told they would be evaluated in the end and they focussed on building the best, most creative, most outstanding “thing.” Unbeknownst to them, they were not being evaluated on what they built, but rather on how they worked together, how they dealt with problems and frustrations and how the wellbeing of others was more important than “winning.”

Who knows if we will have exit interviews at the end of our lives? Maybe we will have one with ourselves. Hopefully, by then we will have realized life is not a race or a competition, and neither fair nor unfair. It is an opportunity – an opportunity to work with whatever we are given and to grow and evolve in the process.

It is an opportunity to trust that we co-create with an unfolding plan, and even if we don’t like what is unfolding, to consider the possibility that we are being guided in a different direction than we had planned – one that serves our highest good.

So many times I have counselled clients who were broken and devastated when their partner left them. They do not like this program and just want to press “delete.” In time they do survive and eventually meet someone new. They tell me they cannot believe how wonderful this new person is, how much they have in common and how much better it is than their old relationship. The universe knew something they did not and made the blocks tumble down.

So it is okay to be sad, to grieve and to resist a little. Then start building something new.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, CDs and new “Creating Healthy Relationships” Series, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.