Food Safety, food security vs. GMOs

The insider story of transgenic bovine growth hormone

by Shiv Chopra, B.V. Sc. & A.H., M.Sc., Ph.D.

Shiv Chopra• The following is derived from his talk “Five Pillars of Food Safety” given at an international conference on Food Safety, Food Security, and GMOs, hosted by Vandana Shiva in New Delhi 2008. It is even more relevant today.

In early 1988, while manager of Human Safety Division at the Canadian Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, the attitude most regulatory agencies held about GMOs and GMO-derived products was that these were substantially equivalent materials and there should be no need to put them through the usual health risk assessment for regulatory control. I disagreed. Consequently, in regard to the bovine growth hormone (rBST) application from Elanco I requested this company to conduct experiments to show that their product would not induce the production of any other hormones in laboratory animals such as rats. The hormones that I requested them to test for included insulin, thyroxin and progesterone. However, an argument that I faced from the company and my colleagues within Health Canada was that even if rBST appeared in the milk it would do no harm to consumers because being a protein hormone it would be digested away in their stomach without getting into the blood stream. In that case, I suggested that it should be demonstrated to be so via immunological tests in experimental rats.

Nine years passed since I requested this information. Meanwhile, pressure kept building to pass rBST without having to conduct the tests. The matter reached the Canadian Senate where it was dissected and debated for many months and eventually rejected in 1999. What happened in Canada emboldened EU parliament to ban it from being used in its member states in 2000. The only major country that approved it was the Unites States for Monsanto in 1993. Other countries that passed the Monsanto brand of rBST include Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ukraine Republic, Chile and South Africa.

In more recent years Monsanto faced a huge resistance from the U.S. consumers of rBST-induced milk. So much that despite assistance from USFDA, Monsanto threatened to sue everybody that wished to label any milk or milk products to be rBST free. It was a bluff. The latest news is that Monsanto has decided to sell the rBST part of its business to its archrival Eli Lilly Company for three hundred million dollars.

In terms of food production, Canada is blessed. It could produce the healthiest and most abundant food supply. However, it does not. The food that Canada produces is considered internationally to be contaminated. While rBST was not allowed to be used, concoctions of various other hormones continue to be fed and injected to stimulate meat production. Furthermore, farm animals are fed and injected many different antibiotics. Almost all meat-producing animals are fed on diets containing dead animal wastes. Finally, food crops which farm animals and people consume in Canada are grown from pesticide-dependent GMOs.

With exceptions, these products are not allowed to be utilized in any food-producing animals in E.U. countries whereas U.S. and Canadian governments hold a different view. Hormones, antibiotics and slaughterhouse wastes continue to be utilized in these countries. As a result, litigations have been going on in the World Trade Organization where parties accuse each other of causing trade barriers without producing the necessary scientific evidence.

Hormones used in beef stimulation have been shown to be complete carcinogens, meaning that they can initiate and promote cancer. Similarly, non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics to food-producing animals are not allowed in EU countries whereas in Canada and U.S. huge amounts of many different antibiotics continue to be used. Antibiotic use in farm animals is known to cause antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens, such as E. coli, Salmonella, VRE, MRSA, Campylobacter, Clostridium difficile and other organisms and many of these organisms are no longer treatable. Slaughterhouse waste is also completely banned in E.U. countries whereas these materials continue to be fed to food-producing animals in Canada. The feeding of slaughterhouse wastes can cause Bovine Spongiform Disease (BSE) in cattle and meat consumption from infected cattle can cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in people.

All these practices are described in my book titled Corrupt to the Core: Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower. There is enough food for everyone to eat but, as Mahatma Gandhi said, it will never be enough to satisfy greed. The number of farmers in the U.S.A. is one million whereas in India it is two hundred million. Much of the food that those one million U.S. farmers produce is from pesticide dependent GMOs made by multinational corporations like Monsanto, DuPont, Pfizer, Syngenta, BASF and others. Now, farmers are being enticed to turn food crops into producing the so-called green fuel ethanol [contributing] to road rage and climate change. The only solution to this madness is not to allow GMOs to produce any crops and cloned animals for food.

Cross Country Tour

Dr Shiv Chopra and Dr Thierry Vrain “Genetically Engineered Foods and Human Health” cross country tour starts in Victoria Nov. 15 Common Ground hosts them Tuesdays 7PM, November 19th in Vancouver at Canadian Memorial United Church, West 15th & Burrard see ad page 37.


Map of Western Canada showing tour locationsSee website and map for other tour dates and location. Plan now to attend and invite others.


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