Category Archives: Health Canada

Reflections on Dr. Shiv Chopra Author of “Corrupt to the Core – Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower”

January 4, 2018, Ottawa, Canada by Ken Billings

Dr. Shiv Chopra in his garden.

Definition of Whistleblower: Guardian of the Public Trust.  Proposed legislation for Greece – A black and white law to protect any person exposing waste, fraud, abuse, illegality or threat to the public health or public safety.” – John Kiriakou, CIA Whistleblower, Jan 4, 2019 <6>

On January 7, 2018, Whistleblower Dr. Shiv Chopra died, just three months after a 13 year court battle with Health Canada. The Federal Court of Appeal ruled that Dr. Chopra was guilty of insubordination (Sept 6, 2017). He was fired in 2004 for blowing the whistle on Health Canada’s corrupt drug approval process.

Working with Shiv over his last four years has been a privilege and an honour. To me personally, Shiv was like a multifaceted diamond. He was so many things to so many people. To his family he was the consummate caring husband, loving father and wise grandfather. To his colleagues and the public he was a veterinarian, a microbiologist, a scientist, a health regulator, a rights defender and a whistleblower. He was also a poet, a researcher, an author and his community knew him for his fervent leadership in field hockey. The place though, where he felt most rooted was in his organic garden and I think that is understandable because of his passion for safe and healthy food.

To the Canadian public, Shiv Chopra was a veterinarian and microbiologist who drew national attention for his criticism of the veterinary drug approval process. He was one of three researchers fired in June 2004 by Health Canada. While the other two scientists were eventually ordered reinstated, the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board upheld Chopra’s dismissal. <1>

In 1998-99, Dr. Shiv Chopra and two colleagues testified at the Senate Agriculture and Forestry Committee investigation that Health Canada managers had pressured them to release suspect veterinary drugs into the food chain without the evidence of safety required by the Food and Drugs Act.

These allegations shocked the public, triggered headlines around the world and ultimately led to the rejection of one particular drug: Monsanto’s Posilac, a bovine growth hormone (rBGH), which produced unwanted side effects in cow’s milk. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved rBGH prompting Monsanto to pressure Health Canada regulators to do the same. The scientists’ testimony raised serious questions about the effectiveness of Health Canada as a regulator and its relationship with the drug industry. <2>

Court Decision Sept 5, 2000 – “The Federal Court ruled that it was my duty, it was my obligation to blow the whistle. If I have told the department that there’s wrongdoing going on in the hands of managers, they should not be doing that. The Court ruled it was my obligation to do that.” Dr. Shiv Chopra

Chopra’s first lesson regarding the mindset of the bureaucracy came in 1974, during an interview for a promotion:

… a member of the Selection Board, Norman Stevenson, asked me as follows: “Suppose you are selected for this post, whom would you consider to be your client?” I replied: “The public, of course.” “No, it is the industry,” said Stevenson. I begged to disagree with him. “From whom do you draw your mandate?” asked Scott as a follow-up question. “From the Food and Drugs Act, passed by the Canadian Parliament on behalf of the public” I replied. I hate to think that the reason I failed to obtain this post was due to my answers before this Public Service Commission Selection Board.

In 2009, Dr. Chopra published a book, explaining in black and white how Health Canada management treated Shiv and other health regulators. The title was “Corrupt to the Core – Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower.” He named names and described corrupt practices that played out between Health Canada Management and Corporate lobbyists and detailed how he had been maligned. No one sued him. <3>

Chopra chronicles intrigue, manipulation and deception as Health Canada managers — under directions of their political bosses — worked to please their drug company clients. Among other things, Dr. Chopra accuses management of:

  • Ignoring a central tenet of the Food and Drugs Act requiring manufacturers to provide evidence of safety before approval
  • Ignoring and sidelining scientists who refuse to approve drugs without evidence of safety
  • Approving veterinary drugs containing carcinogens and hormones that have detrimental health effects
  • Refusing to revisit approved drugs after new evidence showed they were unsafe
  • Ignoring or manipulating scientists’ reports on certain drugs
  • Forbidding scientists to speak to anyone about their work.

By refusing to collude with what they saw as a breach of the Canada Food and Drugs Act by  their own department, Chopra, Dr. Margaret Hayden and Dr. Gerard Lambert joined the ranks of courageous Canadians who have sought to protect the public interest by performing their duty as public servants, doing their jobs with integrity, even when doing so brought them into conflict with their bosses and risk of dismissal.

The way the corporations, Canadian government, the justice system and media attacked and mistreated Dr. Chopra speaks volumes about the state of our government and world today.

All Prime Ministers including Chretien, Martin, Harper and Trudeau have vilified Dr. Chopra by not protecting him when he spoke out about Health Canada disobeying the Food & Drugs Act. The Feds spent over $10 million dollars and 13 years to conclude that Dr. Chopra was insubordinate. Canadians should be ashamed, outraged and motivated to get this story told to get real whistleblower protection legislation into practice so that all citizens can experience genuine accountability and a healthy food system.

Sharing from Shiv Chopra’s personal page September 7, 2017 after his appeal was denied in court yesterday, “A shameful judgement. Three women judges. Not one asked the cause of my insubordination to senior management. Not one asked why I refused to pass unsafe drugs going into the nation’s food supply. They implicitly blamed me for speaking out about it in public which, indeed, was my duty under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Who can blame me for publishing CORRUPT TO THE CORE? I may be old but not yet gone from saying O Canada, We stand on guard for thee.”

NOTE: Dr. Chopra’s 2000 paper on Bayer’s Baytril antibiotic has been banned from public scrutiny since 2004.

In 2014, Shiv founded the “Canadian Council on Food Safety and Health.” It is still a very grassroots organization and is focused on three aspects:

  1. Actions to pressure Health Canada to obey Canada’s Food & Drugs Act and Regulations.
  2. Advocacy of the public on “The 5 Pillars of Food Safety” whereby if these five toxins are removed from Canadian food, it would be the safest in the world. <4>
  3. Education – Use of organic, permaculture and greenhouse gardening as a practical teaching tool (K-12) for all subjects in the school curriculum.

If you want to honour Shiv, use your voices and conversations to make Health Canada accountable and to ensure that future Canadians can enjoy a sovereign food system that is the healthiest in the world.

Quote from: Jules C. Dervaes, Jr. (1947 – December 2016) an urban farmer and a proponent of the urban homesteading movement in California.

“In our society, growing food yourself has become the most RADICAL of acts. It is truly the only effective PROTEST, one that can – and will – overturn the corporate powers that be. By the process of directly working in HARMONY WITH NATURE, we do one thing most essential to CHANGE THE WORLD – WE CHANGE OURSELVES.

Many people called Dr. Chopra a whistleblower and hero but to Shiv, he was just doing his job, speaking truth to power and trying to provide Canadians the safest and healthiest food for all. Humble and fearless to the core. Bless you Shiv.

“Our health and our country are in very serious trouble. When you make money by damaging the nation’s health and the children’s future that cannot be acceptable, that is not allowed in the law. That is what we have to stop.”                                                                                                               Dr. Shiv Chopra – Durham Wellness Lecture, 2016 <5>

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Ken Billings

Executive Director, Canadian Council on Food Safety and Healthmedia@foodsovereigntycanada.com                                               613-699-0285                                                                               http://CCFSH.org                                                                                                    Editor, Digileakcanada.weebly.com                                                          Producer: Over the Hill Productions                                                       

Sources:

1) After a 13-year battle, former Health Canada scientist won’t get his job back

Joanne Laucius, Ottawa Citizen Sept 6, 2017 https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/after-a-13-year-battle-former-health-canada-scientist-wont-get-his-job-back

2) Whistleblowing at Health Canada: Chopra speaks out

CMAJ Sept 18, 2009     https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2742145/US National Library of Medicine

3) Corrupt to the Core – Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower

Copyright 2009, PDF version 2016                                                          Available in DVD format: http://www.foodsovereigntycanada.com/corrupt-to-the-core/

4) The 5 Pillars of Food Safety

Video: Stand Up for Food Safety (4 min)          https://vimeo.com/294170547

5) Dr. Shiv Chopra – Durham Wellness Lecture, 2016   https://vimeo.com/172035866

6) Definition of Whistleblower: Guardian of the Public Trust

John Kiriakou, CIA Whistleblower, Jan 4, 2019 – At 9:36   https://youtu.be/pL14lCYFXno?t=576

Images of Dr. Shiv Chopra

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Government reaping royalties from GM Atlantic salmon

Common Ground – March 30, 2018

The Canadian government is receiving 10% royalties from sales of the world’s first genetically modified (GM or genetically engineered) animal, a GM Atlantic salmon.

“We’re concerned that the government is responsible for regulating this GM fish and also has a stake in its success,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN).

The royalties are part of a 2009 $2.8 million-dollar grant agreement between the company AquaBounty and the federal government Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The royalties will be paid to the Government of Canada until the grant amount is paid back. If the GM salmon is not a commercial success, there is no requirement for the company to repay the government funds.

SOURCE

Health Canada’s lack of rigorous safety review is the real outrage

The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that medical marijuana users have the right not to have to smoke their medicine. Bring on the pot-infused cookies, lozenges, oils and teas. For some conditions alternative cannabis treatment is more effective and less risky than inhaling. Until the SCC ruling it was a criminal offence for medical users to ingest pot in any other form than dry leaf.

Wellness custodian of the land, Health Minister Rona Ambrose was “outraged” by the ruling.

“Marijuana has never gone through the regulatory approval process at Health Canada, which requires rigorous safety reviews and clinical trials with scientific evidence,” said Ambrose. “So frankly, I’m outraged by the Supreme Court.”

For some, outrage would have been justified had the ruling favored the status quo whereby a mother of a seven-year-old would have to insist Johnny take his medicine by sparking up a joint to get his seizures under control.

Others are outraged at Ambrose’s claim that Health Canada “requires rigorous safety reviews and clinical trials with scientific evidence.”

According to former Health Canada drug evaluator Shiv Chopra the real outrage is that “Health Canada is violating its own Food and Drugs Act by playing fast and loose with drug approvals, allowing drug manufacturers to regulate themselves,” and not insisting on ‘rigorous safety reviews’ as Ambrose claimed.

For Chopra the outrage is that 15 years after he and two fellow scientists, Margaret Haydon and Gérard Lambert blew the whistle on their Health Canada bosses for licensing drugs of questionable safety, nothing has changed.

Source

Health Canada’s Launches sugar, salt, fat symbol. But what about the 5 toxins in our Food?

Feb. 9th, 2018

The Minister of Health, Ginette Petitpas Taylor, today announced that Health Canada will launch consultations on regulations for a new front-of-package symbol on food. This is part of Health Canada’s eating strategy.

The irony is, that these items (salt, sugar and fat) are already on the label for food packaging and include the percentages contained in that food. So what is going on here?

What is not labeled, are 5 toxins in our food which are: Hormones, Antibiotics, Slaughterhouse waste fed to farm animals, GMO’s(glyphosate) and pesticides. All but pesticides have been banned in Europe for decades.

STAND UP – For Food Safety – This 4-minute doc urges citizens to mobilize, ban contaminants in our food supply and take back the food system. Produced by The Canadian Council on Food Sovereignty and Health. A food advocacy group campaigning and organizing for sustainable agriculture and an organic food system. The Council promotes a ban on toxins currently permitted in our food supply. Thanks to industry self-regulation hormones, antibiotics, slaughterhouse waste, pesticides & GMOs continue to be approved by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency – contrary to the Food and Drugs Act!

VIDEO: STAND UP – For Food Safety

Chemical Exposure Linked to Billions in Health Care Costs

Researchers conclude they are 99 percent certain that hormone-altering chemicals are linked to attention problems, diabetes, other health problems.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/03/150305-chemicals-endocrine-disruptors-diabetes-toxic-environment-ngfood/

Plane spraying pesticide on maize (Zea mays), California, USA