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By Robert Cohen Executive Director textonly.gif (475 bytes)

Weekly Opinion Column (01/17/99)

Here we go again:


      How did an important story like this make headline news in every newspaper in Canada and then receive little or no mention in America's media?

      After reviewing the New York Times (motto: All the News That's Fit to Print") WEEK IN REVIEW, Section 4 for January 17, 1999, the only piece of news about cows comes from Representative James A. Trafficant, Jr., Ohio Democrat. Here is what the Congressman said:

      "Mr. Speaker, talking about garbage, the E.P.A. is spending $210,000 to study cow belching and its effects on global warming. Here is how it works. Cows will wear backpacks and have hoses connected to their mouths. Tell me, Mr. Speaker, what happens if the backpack is so tight and instead of an oral emission, Elsie goes 7.0 on the Richter scale? Will the President declare a garbage emergency...? Or how about maybe appoint a Congressional Bovine Burp Task Force. Or maybe, the E.P.A. will require-think about it-scrubbers on udders, bag hoses on nostrils. I think we ought to take cattle prods to the E.P.A."

      The most controversial drug application in the history of the United States had become the most controversial drug application in Canada. In America, the drug was approved amidst great debate and media coverage. In Canada the drug was TURNED down amidst great media coverage. Nary a word in America after Canada denied what we approved. Curious...


      A multi-national pharmaceutical giant worth multi-billions of dollars recently clashed with a group of activists and environmentalists on the regulatory field of battle. A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. The improbable "war" continued for nearly ten long years. Neither side could defeat the other. The anti-BST activists were empowered when they discovered the Achilles heel of the pharmaceutical giant, MONSANTO. An enormous horse was left outside of the gates of the city of Troy, its belly hollow. The adversaries of the omnipotent army that had laid siege for so many years rejoiced and brought that gift into their once great nation. The celebration still goes on. A victory dance as hollow as the stomach cavity of that wooden horse veils the true meaning of victory and the consequence of defeat. Monsanto has sailed away from Canada... just far enough so that their ships have disappeared beyond the horizon. In the middle of the night, just as Odysseus slipped from within the Trojan horse's belly, so too will MONSANTO return to Canada. The gates have been left open and this time there will be no defense.


      MONSANTO Agricultural Company of St. Louis, Missouri genetically engineered the bovine growth hormone (BST). Cows injected with MONSANTO'S hormone produce more milk. In seeking approval for their drug, MONSANTO invested $500 million dollars and submitted 55,000 pages of scientific research to FDA.

      This application and subsequent approval became the most controversial in FDA history. MONSANTO also applied for approval in Canada. Canadian scientists and government bureaucrats enjoyed an opportunity to learn from America's approval process. MONSANTO research was rigorously reviewed and many adverse effects, previously missed by FDA scientists and reviewers, were discovered by their Canadian counterparts.


      January 14, 1999: Health Canada announced today that it would not approve the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone for sale in Canada. The Acting Director General for Policy, Planning and Coordination of Canada's health protection branch, Health Canada (the Canadian equivalent of America's FDA), issued the official report. In his denial, acting director Joel Weiner wrote:



      In the official denial of MONSANTO'S application there was no mention of any concern for human health and safety issues, yet for the past six months Canadian newspapers and television news shows have made this application the most controversial drug application in Canadian history. Six Canadian scientists, reviewing MONSANTO'S application, came forward with an official complaint. They accused their superiors of pressuring them into approving MONSANTO'S hormone without having the opportunity to study the actual research.

      When these scientists obtained the research, they discovered that laboratory animals got cancer from MONSANTO'S drug.

      Health Canada issued a well-publicized "GAP REPORT." That report considered many of the issues raised in my book, MILK-The Deadly Poison. For example, a pasteurization fraud resulted in the original approval of BST in America. That research was originally performed in Guelph, Ontario, and first reported by me. I have worked closely with officials of the Canadian government during the past two years, seeing to it that they reviewed the "smoking guns."

      The key study leading to BST approval in the USA was the "Richard, Odaglia and Deslex report." That study was NOT reviewed by America's FDA until nearly two years after BST's approval. Last year I discussed this key evidence with Senator Eugene Whelan, the Chairman of the Canadian Senate committee reviewing the issues. I worked with environmental groups, seeking to have the actual study acknowledged.


      In America, a Freedom of Information Act request for the key study was filed (by this author) and a suit in federal court was argued before a judge. MONSANTO continued to enjoy protection from having the study released. The application process in Canada provided the window of opportunity for the TRUTH to be revealed. The Canadian scientists would now have a chance to review the actual study. Armed with proof of cancer, the genetically engineered hormone could never be approved.


      During the Canadian review process, the safe containing the study was broken into. Files were stolen. However, the scientists had an opportunity to review the 90-day study and discovered that laboratory animals treated with this food additive had gotten CANCER. What was stolen? The second half of the study! Every American review board (FDA, USDA, NIH, etc.) refers to this key study as a 90-day study. In fact, the study lasted for 180 days and all the animals got cancer. FDA reported no biological effects. The Canadian scientists found a number of different cancers including colon and prostate cancers.

      Where's the study? Now it will never be released in Canada... either.


      Rats were tested to determine human safety. The rats got cancer. Human consumption of this hormone may not be safe. Canada's approval specified concern for cow safety only. Cow safety had not been the controversial issue. Has there been a case of universal amnesia? Are Canadian and world activists celebrating a bit too much, becoming inebriated on the sweet wine of victory just as the ancient Trojans drank to a stupor, losing the war in the middle of the night while their sentinels slept?


      Arnold Schwarzenegger played the role of a not-to-be deterred killer android in the movie, TERMINATOR. Before donning his sunglasses, the TERMINATOR warns: "I'll be back."

      A spokesman for the MONSANTO Canada Company, Vice President Ray Mowling, warned:

      "We're not finished with the approval process. We're going to respond to the animal side."

      Indeed! Now that Health Canada has removed human safety issues, ignoring their own discovery that the rats got cancer... it remains only a matter of time before BST gains approval in Canada. Yesterday's victory is a hollow one. Tomorrow's MONSANTO victory is assured. Cow safety is NOT an issue. American "factory farms" have proven that proper dairy management eliminates cow safety concerns. Anyway, all dairy cows face the same fate. Ultimately, their flesh ends up on a Burger King hamburger. What's the difference whether it takes two years or eight? To make cow safety the lone concern is to guarantee that this non-issue will soon lead to licensing of BST in Canada.


      Americans continue to eat the cheese and butter, ice cream and milk from cows treated with a hormone that caused cancer in laboratory animals. By rejecting BST and by merely citing concerns for the health of cows, Canada continues to IMPORT American products containing hormones that Canadian scientists confirmed to have caused cancer in laboratory animals. There seems to have been a lot more at stake than just human safety during the Canadian review. Perhaps it was also "business and politics as usual."

Robert Cohen (1-201-871-5871)

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