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</P> Few of us know how to safely dispose of prescription and non-prescription drug.

Cleaning Out the Medicine Cabinet: Safe Drug Disposal

Few of us know how to safely dispose of prescription and non-prescription drugs. We recognize them as hazardous waste, and flushing them down the toilet or sending them to a landfill contaminates our water, air and ground.

Elizabeth Winter of BC's College of Pharmacists offers this solution: "Remove personal identifiers (name and Rx number) from your prescription vials, and return the drugs to your pharmacy for disposal." Call your pharmacy first to clarify its drug-disposal policy. Bring in:

  • All medicines (prescription, non-prescription, including vitamins) that have exceeded their expiry date or are not currently being used

  • If the product has no expiry date, dispose of liquids that are older than two years, tablets and capsules older than three years, any medicine in questionable condition or excess quantities that cannot be used within one year

  • Medicine with incomplete or missing labels.

--Pat Bennett

For an expos?n how prescription drugs contaminate the environment, see "Questioning Water Safety."

Farmers Versus Biotech

It all started when transnational corporation Monsanto filed charges against Percy Schmieser, a 72-year-old Bruno, Sask., farmer, for unlawfully growing its genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready canola seed in his field. In his defence, Schmieser said that the seed could have blown off a passing truck or pollen could have drifted from neighbouring fields or been carried in by bees--all of which have been proven possible.

Now Schmieser has lost his court appeal. Last September in Saskatoon, three judges on the Federal Appeal Court Panel ruled that Schmieser grew Roundup Ready canola without a contract or paying the $15-per-acre technology fee charged by Monsanto. During the appeal, Monsanto offered Schmieser an out-of-court settlement of $105,935. But Schmieser chose to appeal the $153,000 Federal Appeal Court ruling and is also appealing the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

This latest ruling not only affects Percy Schmieser, but also all Canadian farmers who may have patented GE seed "appear" on their land. No doubt this will also damage Canada's international reputation of marketing quality grain and oilseeds.

Internationally, Schmieser is leading the fight for farmers' rights to save their own seed. Since his first trial in June 2000, he has travelled the globe as a world ambassador for farmers. In September 2000, he was invited by India's Research Foundation for Science, Ecology and Technology to speak at universities. He once addressed a group of 300,000 Indian farmers--which is more than all the farmers we have in Canada! (There are roughly 250,000 Canadian farmers.) Schmieser received the Mahatma Gandhi Award, India's highest award, for his non-violent fight to protect farmers' rights. Support the Fight Genetically Altered Food Fund Inc., Box 3743, Humboldt, SK, S0K 2A0.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan organic farmers have initiated a class action lawsuit against biotech firms Monsanto and Aventis. They want to prevent the introduction of GE wheat and to seek compensation for damages caused by GE canola seed (cross-pollination jeopardizes the "organic" status of their crops). For more information, visit saskorganic.com.
--Elmer Laird

Organics More Nutritious Conventional Crops

Evidence abounds that organic produce contains more nutrients than commercially grown food.
Nutrients in organic crops Mean % difference over conventional
Vitamin C +27%
Iron +21%
Magnesium +29%
Phosphorus +13%

Virgina Worthington, MS, ScD, CNS, Journal of Alternative and Complementary Therapies, vol. 7, no. 2, 2001. For more reasons to go organic, see Simone Gabbay's article, "Eating Organic."

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