Whistleblowers go public on threat of bovine growth hormones

In the late 80s and through the nineties, three veterinarians with Health Canada were growing increasingly uncomfortable as they investigated bovine growth hormones to determine whether to approve their use. There was pressure from the manufacturers and from their bosses. And when they went public with concerns over safety and human health, they were eventually fired for insubordination. Fifteen years on , one is back at work and two cannot be reinstated.



Part Two of The Current

Whistleblowers going public on bovine growth hormones

The Professional Institute of the Public Service called it a sad day for federal employees worried about the safety of Canadians. This summer, the Labour Relations Board ruled against two out of three Health Canada scientists who lost their jobs in a long battle over whistleblowing.

Doctors Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon and Gerard Lambert went public with their concerns that bovine growth hormones might be a risk to human health. In the end, the hormone was never approved for use in Canada. As well, Shiv Chopra and Margaret Haydon warned that Canada's measures to prevent mad cow disease were inadequate. Health Canada called their actions insubordinate -- and fired them in 2004.

After a lengthy appeal, Gerard Lambert got his job back; the other two scientists are appealing. This week however, all three will be awarded the 2011 Integrity Award by the advocacy group Canadian Journalists for Free Expression.

As part of our series on game changers, we were joined by Shiv Chopra and Margaret Haydon for their efforts to protect Canadians despite the risk to their livelihoods. They were in Ottawa.

In August the Public Service Relations Board dismissed their attempt to get their jobs back. Thursday, they will receive the Integrity Award from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression, a group on whose board Anna Maria sits, and in the interest of transparancy she voted with other members of CJFE's board to honour Drs. Chopra, Haydon and Lambert.

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