Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Blogger Responds to Accusations from CropLife Canada (Letter)

Dear Editor,

So, I see the head of CropLife Canada, Ted Menzies, thinks I used "inflammatory" language in a recent story I wrote. It posed this question. "Is agriculture's toxic hold on nature turning into a death grip?" The story went on to quote scientific studies which link "neonicotinoids," a group of insecticides, to widespread declines in populations of both honeybees and songbirds. ("Neonics" are made by some of the world's biggest chemical companies that he now represents.)


Excuse me, Mr. Menzies, if my headline sounded "inflammatory." But, if Canadians themselves are not yet "inflamed" by the impact your products are having on our natural world, perhaps it's time they should be!

Every school kid must know by now what a calamity it would be if we lose our pollinators. Bees make our lives universally sweet while helping produce one of every three spoons-full of food we put in our mouths!

Songbirds may not figure in the business plans of your member corporations like Bayer, Monsanto or Syngenta. But they add colour and beauty to our lives in ways that fat bottom lines never will. And God forbid they are not actually "canaries in the coal-mine," warning us of dangers these "Croplife" products may pose to human health down the road, too!

Mr. Menzies, you also suggest my story is inaccurate. Then you go on to claim that chemical crops yield more. That, Sir, is, in and of itself, highly questionable.The Rodale Institute in the States has done the longest study anywhere on that very topic. After an initial lag, organic crops yield just as well or better than the GMO kind which need to be carpet-bombed with pesticides. Also, contrary to industry propaganda, the explosion in GMO crops around the world has not resulted in a reduction in pesticide use - but rather a dramatic increase in the volumes applied each year!

You claim that Health Canada subjects pesticides to "rigorous scientific review."  A fascinating choice of words, indeed. Because they are identical to the ones H/C has used for years to defend its continued approval of similar, questionable products in past! Not surprising, considering that the line between regulators and the regulated has been blurred, if not invisible in Canada, for a very long time. (Mr. Menzies was a Conservative MP for 10 years before moving to his present position.) The Sierra Club of Canada wants the House of Commons to look into the possibility of a conflict-of-interest in CropLife Canada's future dealings with the Government of Canada. I believe it should!

My biggest fear is that "neonics," now the world's most widely-used insecticides, may one day come to rival DDT in their infamy. And that's saying a lot. It has been half-a-century since Rachel Carson (in her book, Silent Spring), exposed DDT as the culprit in the massive die-offs of fish and birds and its insidious ability to accumulate dangerously in human tissue. (And recent events seem to indicate,  far from overstating the case against DDT, Ms. Carson may have actually understated it! Another, recent research study has exposed DDT as being harmful in ways never imagined in her time! I'll be telling that story soon, too, to as many people as will listen! (I'll be sure to send you a copy, too, Mr. Menzies.) Stay tuned! 

Ms. Carson had to endure a pricey propaganda campaign launched in the 60s by some of the same corporations CropLife now represents, aimed at sullying her reputation. They failed.


Fast forward to today and we find Mr. Menzies trying to do the same thing to a veteran scientist who is now trying to raise alarm bells over the pesticide, glyphosate. Without providing any proof, Mr. Menzies magically declares "all" of the research the scientist has cited"has been discredited!"

Larry Powell lives in Neepawa, MB where he publishes PlanetInPeril.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work! Menzies and other dupes/patsies need to be continually challenged on their propaganda talking points and outright lies each and every time they spout them. No doubt, Menzies new master will let him know what to say in response to this blog very soon. Kudos to you.

John Fefchak said...

Great come back Larry Powell.

As the presiding Judge in the Tainted Blood Inquiry, Justice Horace Krever stated almost two decades ago:

"The relationship between a regulator and the regulated must never become one in which the regulator loses sight of the principle that it only regulates in the public interest and not in the interest of the regulated".

The first consideration of any government is the health and safety of the people. As so often happens however, this responsibility gets swept under the carpet.
Government, it seems, is content and satisfied to allow "The Foxes to Guard the Chicken house". which also has the distinct, unpleasant odour of collusion.

Sandra said...

Larry - thanks for this.

1. Revolving door? Ted Menzies was an MP until he resigned in Nov 2013. CropLife is nothing more than a lobby machine for the chem-biotech corporations. I wonder in what ways Menzies' work as an MP prepared him to get the job as President of CropLife?

2. Where did Lorne Hepworth go when Menzies took over as president? (Hepworth was one of Grant Devine's cabinet ministers before going to CropLife.) ... Answer: Hepworth is on the Board of Directors of "The Global Institute for Food Security" at the University of Saskatchewan. Not only has the biotech/chemical industry run the College of Agriculture for three decades, this thinly-disguised agricultural "Institute" has been set up. In the case of another new institute, the CCNI (Canadian Centre for Nuclear Innovation) at the U of S, for example, it is claimed that the laws regarding access to information that come with public institutions (transparency) do not apply.

Hepworth is in an unconscionable conflict-of-interest that taints the reputation of the University. (And if you know of CropLife's tactics under Hepworth, integrity is an issue. I recall when Toronto was working on a pesticide bylaw. Hepworth set up the "in name only" Toronto Environmental Coalition to send out press releases about the benign nature of the chemicals. (The bona fide organization is the Toronto Environmental Alliance.) The Chief Medical Officer for Toronto was angry, to say the least, when Hepworth's under-handed ways became public knowledge.