Friday, 5 September 2014

Do Manitoba's Elected Politicians Care About the Health of Their People? A Food Safety Advocate Wonders...

The politicians are "no-shows" at a series of summer speaking events.
by Larry Powell

Organizers of a national speaking tour, designed to warn of the potential health impacts of genetically-engineered foods, had high hopes of winning the ear of governments when the tour arrived in Manitoba in July. The Co-ordinator for the "GE Foods and Health Cross-Canada Speakers Tour" in the province, Rose Stevens, personally sent e-mails to numerous Members of Parliament and MLAs in Manitoba. She invited them to attend one of the seven events held in the province that month. 

Some sent regrets, without further explanation. Others said they had other commitments, without saying what they were. One said he was going to be out of the country for one of the dates, but didn't mention the others. Several did not even respond. 

Whatever their circumstance, not one of the invited politicians showed up! 
Some also declined invitations to send representatives, if they could not be there, themselves.

What might these politicians have heard, had they attended?

Expert speakers sounded alarm bells over glyphosate. That's the active ingredient in Roundup, a widely-used herbicide which kills broad-leaf weeds but spares crops which have been genetically-engineered to resist it. Crops altered in this way are referred to as "Roundup-Ready."

One speaker, Thierry Vrain, cited evidence that glyphosate depletes "GE" soybean crops of certain minerals, making them less nutritious. Dr. Vrain worked for Agriculture Canada for 30 years as a soil scientist and geneticist.

He referred to statistics from both the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Agriculture in the US which show "a very probable link between the amount of glyphosate sprayed on crops and the number of people coming down with gastrointestinal problems." And he pointed to many research studies which suggest a similar link to an increasing litany of human ailments like "kidney inflammation, liver damage, diabetes, celiac disease, autism, even cancer, premature births and miscarriages." 

Dr. Vrain concedes that these studies simply establish a link and are not "scientifically conclusive." But, he says they are like a road map, pointing to the critical need for further studies which will either prove or disprove "causation," once and for all. He suggests, to press ahead with such studies would be relatively easy and logical; not to do so, downright irresponsible.

He adds, the millions of kilograms of glyphosate now applied to crops in North America each year have dispersed so widely, they can be found "In our food, our drinking water, the rain and most importantly, in our bodies." 

Another speaker on the tour, BC activist and organic food advocate, Tony Mitra, pointed out, there is not a single laboratory in all of Canada which will test mothers' milk or our own blood or urine for glyphosate residue - even if we are prepared to pay for it! He calls this unacceptable. Mitra has embarked on a campaign to get such a lab up and running as a way of allowing ordinary people to find out just how much of the pesticide they are coping with in their bodies.

All of the major parties seemed to share equally in their disinterest. 

Since it is not practical to document all of the politicians’ responses (or non-responses) in this space, here's a sampling of one from each major party who were invited, but did not attend. 

Manitoba's (NDP) Minister of Healthy Living, Sharon Blady, (above) did not respond, to either of Ms. Stevens' two invitations to attend. (On her webside, Ms. Blady promises to "create environments that support health and wellness in our communities.")
Larry Maquire, the Conservative MP for Brandon-Souris (above), did not respond to two invitation from Ms. Stevens, either. (In June, Maquire announced a joint grant from both Ottawa and Manitoba, of $1.8 million, to develop new varieties of sunflower seed which would be, among other things, "herbicide tolerant." That's usually code for "Roundup-Ready.") 
Kevin Lamoureux (above), Liberal MP for Winnipeg North was invited, too. He simply said he was "unavailable" due to "scheduling conflicts."
Mayor Sam Katz (above) and the entire city council of Winnipeg were also invited. No one replied.
Kate Story (above), a candidate and official of both the federal and provincial Green Parties (believed to be the only unelected politician to be invited), did not attend, either. Ironically, she was in the Maritimes at the time, at a party convention where she was instrumental in defeating a motion that would have weakened the party's anti-GMO stance. (Other Green Party supporters did attend the speaking events. And one "Green" candidate, Janine Gibson, actually chaired one of them.)

Rose Stevens, the tour organizer, is satisfied with the response of the Green Party. But she is both frustrated and disappointed with the rest. 

"We elect our politicians because we feel they will represent our best interests.  After such a poor response from all of them on such an important health issue it really makes me wonder why we bother to vote for them? Are they more interested in protecting big corporations and not making waves so they can remain in good favour with the highly influential biotech companies?"


PinP said...

Planet in Peril said...
An interesting insight into the political "culture" of my province. It is also a sad commentary on the seriousness with which our politicians view evidence-based decision-making and the need to keep abreast of current scientific knowledge of such important issues as food safety. They ought to give their heads a shake!

John Fefchak, Virden said...

John Fefchak, Virden said...
Of all the politicians, that were contacted, none attended and others did not reply.
Shame, Shame.
Is this what some refer to…"That ignorance is bliss".

Anonymous said...

It is appreciated that this article is indicating the need for this as many do not consider how serious this issue is and how it impacts everyone. Thank you for publishing this article!

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