A VERY NASTY PIECE OF LEGISLATION: Bill C-28, If Passed, Will Expose Food Supply to More Carcinogens

Article excerpt

With all eyes on the Gomery Inquiry, the Martin government was trying before an election was called to sneak a very nasty piece of legislation through Parliament. Bill C-28, an Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act, would accelerate the adulteration of Canada's food supply with cancer-causing chemicals, pesticides, food additives, and veterinary drugs like growth hormones and antibiotics.

During second-reading debate, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Health, Robert Thibault, told the House of Commons not to worry, that the bill is "not related to food safety," but is purely a "technical matter." He added that C-28 is "in line with the ongoing intent of the Canadian government's 'smart regulation' initiative.

In Article 4 of the Food & Drugs Act, the Minister's duty is to prohibit the sale of food that has been adulterated. Under Bill C-28, the Minister will exempt from this prohibition: a) an agricultural chemical; b) and its components or c) derivatives; d) singly or e) in any combination; f) a veterinary drug and g) its metabolites, h) singly or i) in any combination; j) a pest control product or k) its components or 1) derivatives; or m) a food additive.

Food would not be adulterated if the food is named in "an interim marketing authorization" or IMA. The IMA could also be used to allow higher residues of these toxins in a food.

Hocus-pocus! Adulteration is not adulteration if the Minister says so.

The effect of Bill C-28 is to eviscerate the Minister of Health's statutory duty to protect the public from health hazards and fraud. The Minister's new statutory duty in Bill C-28 would be to expose Canadians to chemicals, food additives, pesticides, and veterinary drugs, some of which-like the growth hormone estradiol widely used in industrial beef production-are believed to be carcinogens.

The transformation of the Minister of Health's statutory duty from protecting our food from chemical adulteration to facilitating such adulteration is described as "smart regulation." According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, "smart" can mean: 1. severe enough to cause pain, and 2. selfishly clever verging on dishonesty; and unscrupulously clever. Bill C-28 is very smart indeed.

The Precautionary Principle states that: Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent adverse health impact. Why is Health Canada's Health Products and Food Branch not applying the Precautionary Principle in the regulation of pesticide, chemical, and veterinary drug residues in the diet of infants, children, pregnant women, and other people?

Health Canada has approved the use of six hormones used in beef production that are banned in the European Union: estradiol, progesterone, testosterone, trenbolone, zeranol, and melangestrol. According to the EU's Scientific Committee on Veterinary Measures Relating to Public Health: "no threshold levels can be defined for any of the six substances. …