Book Review: Corrupt to the Core – Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower

Corrupt to the Core Book ReviewCorrupt to the Core – Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower

Author: Dr. Shiv Chopra
Publisher: KOS Publishing Inc.
Book Publication: 2008

When Shiv Chopra grew up in rural India’s Punjab state during the last decade of the British Raj, he never dreamed he would become one of the world’s leading defenders of food safety and security and do battle for three decades with the giants of the food and drug industry. Those were the years when a new political ethic was emerging in the world, and Mahatma Gandhi’s dictum that “civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state becomes lawless and corrupt,” deeply impressed the young Chopra who found himself putting Gandhi into practice for the next forty years in Canada.

The young veterinarian, who was destined to become one of North America’s most prominent and successful whistleblowers, earned a prestigious scholarship to McGill University in the early 1960s and became a Fellow of the World Health Organization. Having become an expert in vaccines and drug evaluation, he worked for drug companies in the U.K., but soon was hired by the Trudeau government headhunters as a Health Canada scientist – just at the time when Big Pharma began to emerge as a political power with interests other than the public good.

Within less than a decade, Dr. Chopra was centre-stage in what the Canadian media often referred to as a David and Goliath fight because of Chopra’s insistence that the safety regulations of the Canadian Food and Drugs Act be fully observed to protect the public, incurring the displeasure of a long line of Ministers of Health and several Prime Ministers. Simultaneously, Dr. Chopra’s wife Nirmala, also a Health Canada scientist, found herself embroiled in one of the greatest medical scandals of the 20th century, namely silicon breast implants, the marketing of which she had the temerity to oppose on the soundest of immunological grounds.

With full support from The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, a 50,000-member union of scientific and professional public service employees, Dr. Chopra and his colleagues refused to approve various harmful drugs which manufacturers intended to use in meat and milk production. Chopra and his compatriots defied gag orders, spoke publicly to the media and testified at many Senate and parliamentary committees.

Time and again the courts supported Dr. Chopra and his fellow scientists and ruled against government attempts to shut them up. Today, the dangers of the drugs they opposed are internationally recognized and many countries have forbidden their use. In 1999, Chopra and his colleagues succeeded in preventing the use of carcinogenic bovine growth hormone (already banned in the EU in 1988) with implications for its use throughout the world. They also succeeded in stopping the use of dangerous antibiotics and hormones such as Baytril, Revalor-H and many more. His ongoing fight against the sources of Mad Cow Disease, while calling the bluff on the Anthrax scare, and his warnings about the myth of safe and effective vaccines are equally inspiring stories.

Five years in the making, Corrupt to the Core is introduced by Right Livelihood Award winners Maude Barlow, Vandana Shiva, Samuel Epstein, and recommended by Ralph Nader and David Suzuki. It includes a blueprint for a world in which food is uncontaminated by genetic engineering and free of pesticides and immune disrupting and carcinogenic hormones and antibiotics.

His life story sets an example as well as provides tools for action. The worldwide food safety activities, which Dr. Chopra continues to be involved in provide an invitation to the reader to join forces with him. The book can be ordered from any book store.

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