Keep Canadian food inspection system independent, say scientists
April 12, 2005
Canada risks losing its ability to adopt independent testing and the inspection capacity it needs to protect the health and safety of Canadians if Bill C-27, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act, is passed, say prominent Canadian and U.S. scientists who will be addressing the House Standing Committee on Agriculture this afternoon.
Dr. Lester Friedlander, former USDA veterinarian and meat inspector, says “rules and regulations are broken every day in the United States because the government is not enforcing them, allowing, for example, animal protein to be fed back to cattle.” He has seen this occur in the U.S. and believes it is a growing problem in Canada. Warning Canadians against adopting U.S. inspection rules and practices, Dr. Friedlander says, “The public must insist that the food safety regulatory function be separated from the governmental agency promoting corporate agribusiness. We need a genuine, separate department of consumer protection.”
Dr. Gerard Lambert warns against relying on other countries’ testing. “If food is not tested properly it will contaminate our food chain very rapidly. Testing after the fact is too late.” He added, “Bill C-27 is about harmonizing with US regulations. It is not about protecting the health of Canadians.”
Bill C-27 would allow the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to accept testing and certification results from other countries. The government has said this legislation will make Canada’s food and agriculture regulatory system more similar to the American system. However, the U.S. system currently permits irradiation of meat, which is not allowed in Canada, has failed to meet World Health Organization guidelines for preventing BSE, and relies on voluntary compliance when companies are found in violation of its regulations. Furthermore, U.S. whistle-blower scientists who act in the public interest are not protected.
“This government’s ‘Smart Regulation’ legislative renewal project, which includes Bill C-27, is what I describe as the ‘Corporatization of Knowledge’ — instituting private interests ahead of the public good,” says Dr. Shiv Chopra, who along with colleagues Dr. Margaret Haydon and Dr. Gerard Lambert, blew the whistle on conflicts of interests in Health Canada’s drug approval process. “We will request the postponement of the entire legislative renewal process until after a full public inquiry into what we, as scientists, have been suffering on account of the pressure exerted on us to pass drugs and other products and methods of questionable safety.”
The scientists will appear as witnesses at the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food, Room 253-D Centre Block at 3:30 PM, April 12.
Canadians opposed to Bill C-27 can fax a letter of concern to their MP from the Beyond Factory Farming Coalition web site by clicking here. Tell your MP to vote NO to Bill C-27!.
The BFF Coalition is a network of local, provincial and national groups including the Council of Canadians. It promotes livestock production that supports food sovereignty, ecological, human and animal health, as well as sustainability and community viability and informed citizen/consumer choice.
For more information: Cathy Holtslander, Beyond Factory Farming Project Organizer, (306) 955-6454 or cellular (306) 229-4075 Jan Malek, Council of Canadians (613) 233-4487 ext. 231