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London chapter hosts public forum on ‘free trade’ and food

The speakers, organizers and part of the audience from last night’s public forum.

The Council of Canadians London chapter hosted a public forum last night on trade and food safety that featured Dr. Shiv Chopra.

Chapter activist Jennifer Chesnut tells us, “Seventy-five people attended the ‘What’s on Your Plate: Food and Trade Symposium’ at the Central Library. Dr. Chopra told his story and highlighted the toxins that will come into our food system through the new trade. He made a passionate call for citizens to realize that the government is employed by us and suggested we use our judicial system to push back on corporate corruption.”

Chopra is a former Health Canada microbiologist. In 1998-99, Chopra and two of his colleagues testified at the Canadian Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry that they were pressured by senior supervisors to approve multiple drugs, including Bovine Growth Hormone (rBST). In 2001, the Council of Canadians presented Dr. Chopra with a ‘Whistleblower Award’ for his determination to speak the truth about rBST. Chopra and his two colleagues were fired by Health Canada in 2004.

Monsanto commerically developed rBST to administer to dairy cows to increase their milk production.

CBC has reported, “There are worries that the TPP means milk from hormone-treated U.S. cows could end up in Canadian supermarkets. In the agreement in principle reached in early October 2015, Canada conceded an additional 3.25 per cent of its dairy market to imports from countries like the U.S., New Zealand and Australia.” In Canada, it is illegal to administer rBST to dairy cows, but it is allowed in the US.

The Trudeau government has not announced any plans to label or separate rBST-tainted milk entering Canada. In fact, Global Affairs Canada has stated, “Health Canada has determined, in 1999, that rBST does not pose a health risk to humans. There is no scientific basis for restricting trade in milk or dairy products from trading partners that have approved rBST.”

Chesnut also highlights the other featured speakers at last night’s public forum.

She tells us, “Dimitri Lascaris, class action suit lawyer spoke about the unjust system of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) enforcement in context of the TPP. Amy Wood presented her research about buy-local thresholds and highlighted many food contracts that will be at risk for cities under CETA  — particularly on campuses and hospitals. She contrasted this fact to the growing desire for local food across the country. And Joan Brady spoke about the degradation of farming across the free trade decades and gave the National Farmers Union analysis around food sovereignty. She told stories about the grief in farming through these decades.”

For more on our campaigns to stop the TPP and CETA, please click here.