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Safe Food Matters Inc. filed an application in federal court yesterday, challenging the re-registration of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide. In 2017 it filed a notice of objection (“NoO”) to the re-registration decision and asked that an independent review panel be established. Eight NoOs were filed in mid-2017, and all were rejected on January 11, 2019.
“We have no choice but to go to Court on this issue” said Mary Lou McDonald, President of Safe Food Matters (and also a challenger in her own right). “We point out to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (“PMRA”) exactly how this poison is concentrating in certain foods, and all they do is tweak the labels. The feds’ own data shows that label details aren’t followed or enforced. It is not right. They are completely ignoring the issue.”
In addition, the safety factor for children was reduced, without the scientific justification required by law. Moreover, Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) were set without looking at today’s dietary exposure or health trends in Canadians.
Ms. McDonald stated, “Canada’s new food guide encourages us to eat more plant-based proteins like lentils, beans and chickpeas, but these are the most contaminated. Spraying crops while they are still growing can speed dry-down (“desiccation”) for harvest, but glyphosate builds up in the seeds of these “indeterminate” plants. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirms that MRLs are being exceeded in these foods.
“PMRA estimated dietary exposures based on a 1990s American diet. Today’s diet is dramatically different. We didn’t even know what hummus was then, and now it is a mainstay! In fact, grains and pulses can be up to hundreds of times more contaminated that meat and milk. PMRA did not look at the levels of glyphosate in modern diets, much less determine that the risks are acceptable.”
Ms McDonald added, “We think they got the legal test wrong. This wrong legal test could stone-wall public interest into the future.
“We only had to raise a doubt about the validity of the evaluation, not provide a complete science dossier. The Minister of Health denied striking an independent panel because the old science underlying the 2015 decision had not been disproven. No additional science was cited by PMRA, and decades of research that had been discredited in the “Monsanto Papers” was defended (although PMRA did say, “it is disconcerting”).”
Ms McDonald concluded, “I believe in the law, and think we have a good case. A proper and valid evaluation is current, looks at all available information, follows principles of an evidence-based approach and good scientific practice, and is free from the appearance of conflict of interest. We expect that a new independent panel will perform such an evaluation.”
Prevent Cancer Now, that co-filed a Notice of Objection with other civil society organizations, applauds the Safe Food Matters Inc. action.
Chairperson Meg Sears stated, “Glyphosate doesn’t just kill plants, it mobilizes toxic metals, kills bacteria, and recent research confirms that glyphosate alters the “microbiome” – the essential flora in the gut. Public health and recent science are absent from the PMRA evaluation.
“Related to the microbiome, inflammatory bowel disease is increasing at 7% per year in Canadian children under 6 years of age, and colorectal cancer is increasing apace, at 7% per year in those aged 15 to 29.
“Another important repercussion is pregnancy failure with glyphosate exposure, that was signalled in 2001 Health Canada research. The scientists reviewing the NoOs missed new human and animal studies confirming that glyphosate causes spontaneous abortion and early births.
The current situation is unsustainable, and unethical. Canadians are getting sicker, at younger ages, and glyphosate is a top contributory suspect.”
More details on the NoOs can be found here.