Council of Canadians chapters help organize 17-community tour on the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Dr Shiv ChopraAbout 17 Council of Canadians chapters across the country have expressed interest in supporting a public event in their community with Dr. Shiv Chopra on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Monsanto's Bovine Growth Hormone (commonly referred to as BGH, rBGH and rBST). Details are being confirmed now for this spring-time tour.

BGH is an artificial growth hormone that was developed to increase milk output from dairy cows.

CBC has reported, "There are worries that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal means milk from hormone-treated U.S. cows could end up in Canadian supermarkets. Dr. Shiv Chopra is a former Health Canada scientist who lost his job after raising the alarm about dangers posed by bovine growth hormone. Partially because of his work, it is currently illegal to use the drug to boost milk production in Canada. Chopra [says], 'We worked upon it so much and got [bovine growth hormone] rejected in Canada... Now, under the trade agreement, it's going to let the floodgates open.'"

That article adds, "In the [TPP] 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. TPP negotiators have told CBC that Canadian health and safety regulations will apply to all imported products. But that does not mean dairy producers in the U.S. have to follow the same rules Canadian farms do. There are fewer restrictions on hormone use on U.S. cows. According to Chopra, 'The damage that occurs to the milk, to the cows, ultimately it translates into human health hazards.'"

Our ally Food and Water Watch says, "The possible health implications of BGH for humans and cows are significant. The milk from cows injected with BGH has higher levels of another hormone called insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Elevated levels of IGF-1 in humans have been linked to colon and breast cancer. Some researchers believe there may be an association between the increase in twin births over the past 30 years and elevated levels of IGF-1 in humans. And BGH use has increased bacterial udder infections in cows by 25 percent, adding to the need for antibiotics to treat the infections, a worrisome trend in light of the growing problem of antibiotic resistance."

The European Union has banned the use of BGH because it substantially increases health problems in cows and often results in "severe and unnecessary pain, suffering and distress" for them, including "serious mastitis, foot disorders and some reproductive problems". The American Cancer Society only says, "The evidence for potential harm to humans is inconclusive [and] has no formal position regarding rBGH." But in response to questions about the TPP, Global Affairs Canada says, "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."

Adding to the concern on this issue, a CBC report from Oct. 2015 highlighted, "No new certification or inspection regime appears set to screen milk destined for import into Canada. It's also unclear whether U.S. milk would be segregated at Canadian processing facilities, or simply mixed with Canadian product." In other words, it appears unlikely the milk would be labelled so that a consumer could make their own choice about whether or not they wanted to drink it. While Country of Origin Labeling doesn't currently apply to milk, the World Trade Organization has already ruled that labeling can be a technical barrier to trade. Trudeau's agriculture minister has stated his support for that ruling.

In February 2001, the Council of Canadians presented Dr. Chopra with a 'Whistleblower Award" in recognition of his courage and determination to preserve the public good in spite of reprisals from Health Canada during the successful fight to ban Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone in Canada.

To add your name to our petition to keep BGH milk out of Canada, please click here.

We will have more information to share about this tour with Dr. Chopra as details are confirmed in the coming weeks.

Photo: Dr. Shiv Chopra.