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Rising Cancer Rates


A recent article in the <i>Regina Leader Post</i> reported a statement made by Shiv Chopra, one of a group of four worried Health Canada scientists.

A recent article in the Regina Leader Post reported a statement made by Shiv Chopra, one of a group of four worried Health Canada scientists. He said the group had been writing to politicians for five years complaining about the condition of Canada's food supply without any response, and that Health Canada is pressuring its staff to approve unsafe drugs.

Here in Saskatchewan, we're equally concerned about Canada's food supply and the effects of chemical agriculture. We were fortunate to have award-winning journalist Liane Casten of Chicago as a guest speaker in Davidson on July 5th. She is author of the book Breast Cancer, Poisons, Profits and Prevention (Common Courage Press, 1996), which documents the connection between breast cancer, chlorinated chemicals and the environment.

"PCBs, DDT, dioxin and most chlorine-based chemicals along with nuclear radiation cause 70 per cent of all breast cancer in women and yes, now in men," she said. "This includes both nuclear power plant emissions and extensive medical diagnostic radiation procedures. There is a growing debate about the value of mammograms as a diagnostic tool especially when there are safer diagnostic alternatives. However, with the media and the cancer establishment pressing for mammograms, precious little time is placed on prevention."

Casten continued, "Considering the fact the whole country (rural and urban) uses 2,4-D in agriculture, which contains trace levels of dioxin, this is a recipe for disaster. Dioxin is a known human carcinogen and like chlorinated compounds, tends to accumulate in the environment and in animal and human body fat. Therefore, parts per trillion grows to part per billion, and parts per billion grows to parts per million, and parts per million in the body spells trouble!"

Saskatchewan is definitely feeling the effects of chemical agriculture. Our spraying season lasts seven months, and we have the highest rates of breast and cervical cancer in Canada. Our province has the second highest prostate cancer rate. Dr. Allan Cessna of the National Hydrology Water Research Centre in Saskatoon reported that all Saskatchewan surface waters and one-third of the wells are polluted with herbicides some at very high rates. He noted that 24 hours after farmers start spraying pesticides, they begin passing the pesticides through their urine.

Not surprisingly, we also use about one-third of all the pesticides used in Canada a blind reliance that has nothing to do with human health and all to do with corporate profit. Pesticides were designed in the First and Second World Wars to destroy people and vegetation. We should have learned a lesson from the Vietnam War. Veterans are still suffering and dying from exposure to Agent Orange, a combination of 2,4-D and 2,4,5T used in Vietnam as a weapon.

David Suzuki recently reported in "The Nature of Things" on CBC about the devastation of the land in Vietnam, much of which remains unproductive 40 years after the war. Many Vietnamese also remain ill and suffer from birth defects as a result of Agent Orange exposure.

It is unfortunate that both the federal and provincial governments in Canada continue to give strong support and funding to chemical agriculture, biotechnology and the corporations that promote them, while ignoring certified organic farms and farmers.

Is this so surprising? In the last federal election, Canadians elected 301 federal members of Parliament, who go to Ottawa to be bombarded by 3,300 registered lobbyists, many of whom work for chemical and biotech companies.

Casten concluded, "Our most famous American
president, Abraham Lincoln, when describing the role of government said, 'Government must be of the people, for the people and by the people.' "

Well, to Canada's politicians, I ask: are you a government run by corporations or by the people?



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