I’m Mary Lou McDonald, president of Safe Food Matters, and I'm here to tell you that we are TAKING HEALTH CANADA TO COURT over GLYPHOSATE (the active ingredient in Roundup weedkiller). I'm also here to ask for your help!
We believe in the law. After Health Canada made its irresponsible 2017 decision to continue to allow and re-register the use of glyphosate in Canada for another 20+ years, we filed a legally allowed NOTICE OF OBJECTION. As did 7 other Canadian health experts, citizens, and environmental groups.
All 8 were rejected.
So we were left with only ONE LEGAL OPTION: to file in Federal Court for a JUDICIAL REVIEW of the rejection. And we did and were happy to do so. (Above is a pic of me signing the affidavit for the case.)
We think our case is good. And that we will win. When we win, an INDEPENDENT PANEL should be struck to REVIEW the registration of glyphosate in Canada.
This case is important from a health perspective, and a strategic perspective.
HEALTH: The United Nations and WHO has indicated that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”. So far, three U.S. court cases (with 13,000+ cases pending) have found it can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, with the latest case awarding over USD $2 Billion in damages! Recently a class-action case from Saskatchewan was launched and is slated for hearing in 2020, and another case from Quebec is in the works. What we bring to the table (described below) is we show how glyphosate is getting RIGHT INTO OUR FOOD.
Our case could have a strong impact in the United States and even Europe. Canada’s review process for re-registration is similar to the United States. The U.S. and Canada in 2010 even papered an agreement to "work cooperatively" on the file. But Canada's process is FOUR years ahead of the U.S., and America is only starting to take comments on its decision to re-register glyphosate. So Canada is actually a TESTING GROUND for the U.S. In Europe, the 2018 decision was to re-register for only 5 (as opposed to 20) years, and it limited registration for desiccation purposes. So all eyes are watching.
We argue that Health Canada ignored the evidence or the law on at least three fronts.
1.) It ignored the evidence that it is accumulating in our food (like chickpeas) when used as a "desiccant" on crops.
2.) It ignored the law by not following the safety levels for the use of glyphosate when it comes to spraying around infants and children.
3.)It ignored the evidence that labels are not followed.
I WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT DESICCATION:
Glyphosate was initially registered in Canada in 1976 for use as a weedkiller. WHAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW is that since the 2000s, farmers have been using it as a "desiccant". They are spraying glyphosate (and related conconctions) on conventional, non GM crops to "desiccate" (kill) them so that they die quickly and are easier to pick-up and harvest. This is more efficient than other means of killing the crop, like combining and swathing.
But desiccation is causing the POISON TO GET RIGHT INTO OUR FOOD. High "residue" levels have been found in Canadian OATS (cereals, baby food, crackers), LEGUMES (beans, chickpeas, lentils) and GRAINS (wheat, barley). In August 2018, the Environmental Working Group tested 28 samples of children's oat cereals and found that ALL BUT TWO showed harmful levels of glyphosate, according to its measures. This is simply unacceptable!
The focus in our legal case has been on CHICKPEAS, because 2015 test data obtained from the Canada Food Inspection Agency shows that RESIDUE LEVELS IN CHICKPEAS WERE HIGH. When we looked at the issue, we figured out it is because chickpeas are an "indeterminate" plant, which means that its seeds or fruits are always growing, as opposed to "determinate" plants where the seed growth stops.
Glyphosate is a "systemic" herbicide, which means it gets right into the growing system of a plant. It concentrates ("translocates") at high levels in the "juicy" part of the plant that is growing seeds or fruits, like the chickpea itself. So when an indeterminate plant is sprayed with glyphosate, the juicy part of the plant will predictably and consistently have high levels of glyphosate.
We also saw that in the consultation document that supported the re-registration of glyphosate, Health Canada only looked at consumption levels of chickpeas from the 1990s in the U.S., and did NOT examine the huge increase in production and consumption of chickpeas and hummus over the past 20 years! We are bringing this up in Court.
Glyphosate's use as a desiccant is more prominent in Canada than any other country due to our shorter growing season.
I don't know about you, but I believe that safe food does matter and that food containing ANY level of glyphosate is NOT safe food.
I ALSO WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT GLYPHOSATE IN PLAYGROUNDS:
The law puts a safety factor of "10 times normal" when it comes to protecting CHILDREN and INFANTS from spraying in or around HOMES or SCHOOLS--places like PLAYGROUNDS. The law requires good rationale "on the basis of reliable scientific data” that a different margin of safety would be appropriate.
However, Health Canada has reduced this safety factor, but with ZERO scientific rationale. They just said it is "unlikely that children would be exposed to turf residues of the highest rate". This is not a valid "scientific rationale", and so we argue that their reduction in the safety factor is illegal. We raised this in our case and hope when we win, it will return to the "10 times normal" standard.
Glyphosate is also currently being used widely in the FORESTRY industry (destroying food and habitat for wildlife) and all across Canada by POWER and UTILITY companies to spray hydro tower corridors. RAILWAY companies are also using the chemical on their tracks to control weeds (again, all of these uses are a threat to wildlife food, habitat and water systems!)
Work on our case against Health Canada began in February 2019, and because our awesome lawyer Andrea Gonsalves and her firm Stockwoods LLP believe in our case (and she is vegan), they have kindly agreed to a fee cap.
Our target is to raise $20,000, and we have been billed a good portion of that. We have put in a ton of time and work in filing my affidavit, but we still have to prepare for cross-examination and submit all of our written arguments. And as you know, time is $ when it comes to legal battles.
Our hearing is expected to happen at the Federal Court in downtown Toronto later this year. We will keep you posted on that!
I am sure that you, like me, want to eat safe food.
I am sure that you, like me, want to rely on our regulators to ensure that we are not at risk.
So I expect you, like me, are NOT TOO HAPPY with the fact that Health Canada has allowed high levels of glyphosate in our oats, grains and legumes. (While at the same time promoting the increased consumption of such foods in the new Canada Food Guide).
I think we've all wanted a valid legal case to be launched against Health Canada on glyphosate, including our mentors like the late Dr. Shiv Chopra and professor/activist John Balantinecz. We just decided to bite the bullet and kick it off.
So if you hoped for such a case, and are glad it is in the works, I ask that you kindly support me and Safe Food Matters in funding this case. We ask for your support in this battle for our health and what is right, and for holding our governments accountable for their decisions. Our goal is safe food for all, and a safe environment for all.
No matter how small or large the amount, ALL donations to the Safe Food Matters Legal Fund are greatly appreciated and beneficial.
At Safe Food Matters, we believe in the law, in Canada, in positivity, in taking the high road and practicing gratitude. I think this case will be good for Canada, the law, and a testament to positivity and the high road. I hope you join us, and personally want to thank you for reading this post and for supporting this campaign. .
Health Canada didn't get it right, but we think our courts will! Please donate and share our campaign, and help us go to court.
Mary Lou McDonald,
Safe Food Matters Inc.
- Carol Lang
- Joseph Bourgault
- Robert Ness