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Canada and Europe’s food safety at risk with glyphosate found in 1/3 of food products

In August 2016, The Council of Canadians produced a report with numerous European allies on the impact the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) would have on food safety.

Those allies included War on Want (UK), Transnational Institute (Netherlands), Les Amis de la terre (France), ATTAC-Austria, Global 2000 (Austria), Via Campesina (Austria), IGO (Poland), Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung (Germany), Nature Friends (Greece), Insitute for Agricultural Trade Policy (Europe), Powershift (Germany), and ATTAC-Spain.

The report argues, “History shows that trade agreements put food safety at risk by harmonizing standards and reducing regulations to the lowest common denominator. If CETA is ratified, it will jeopardize the EU’s own food standards and regulations.”

The report then notes that “Glyphosate is a herbicide that is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s product Roundup” and explains that in March 2016 the European Commission on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety voted against the European Commission’s proposed renewal of the market licence for glyphosate. But in June 2016, the European Commission extended the safety approval of glyphosate until December 2017. The European Chemicals Agency, which is responsible for classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals in Europe, is now in the process of completing its review on glyphosate.

The report highlights, “Research on harmonization efforts, like those around pesticide residue levels, shows harmonization has helped increased the market size and concentration of the chemical industry. Instead of making standards fairer for all players, harmonization can change the rules to the advantage of bigger players by adjusting entry barriers and options for producers in smaller crop markets.”

Now, CBC reports, “Canada’s food regulator has found traces of a controversial pesticide in nearly one-third of food products — and residue levels above the acceptable limits in about four per cent of grain products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency published its report on glyphosate testing on its website this week.”

Health Canada considers glyphosate safe.

But the article notes, “Dr. Warren Bell, a family physician from British Columbia and founding president of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, said he is concerned about the long-term health effects of exposure to low levels of glyphosate.”

That article adds, “Once glyphosate is in a person’s body, he said, there is evidence to suggest it could mimic a naturally occurring amino acid, called glycine, and prevent proteins in the body from working properly. ‘It opens up the potential for a vast array of disturbances of biological function’, he said. Bell said he’s also concerned about evidence that suggests glyphosate can create antibiotic resistance in humans, and that it makes metals more biologically available, which can cause negative health effects.”

An executive summary of Food Safety, Agriculture and Regulatory Cooperation in the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement is available in Dutch, English, French, German, Greek and Polish. The full report is available in English, French, German and Polish. For more on this, please click here.