With sadness and gratitude we pay tribute to Dr. Shiv Chopra, a member of Elder Rights’ Advisory Board, who died on January 7, 2018.
Dr. Chopra very graciously agreed to serve on our Board, providing unparalled insight and wisdom regarding the role of “whistleblowers” and grass roots advocates like ourselves who are fighting to protect vulnerable people from harm by health care providers, government organizations, law enforcement and other authorities. His encouragement was powerful; his voice soft.
Shiv Chopra will be recognized and celebrated, far more than he was during his lifetime, for the unselfish, steadfast and remarkable efforts he made to protect Canadians, many of whom do not even know of the man today. Canada, and the World, needs more Shiv Chopra. He was a giant of moral leadership, and will remain an inspiration far into the future.
An excerpt from an article published by the CBC on January 20, 2018: He had no regrets: Friends, family remember whistleblower Shiv Chopra
“An outspoken advocate, Chopra decried the use of pesticides, hormones and toxins in food production, eventually taking on the country’s drug approval process.
In the late 1990s, Chopra and two colleagues, Dr. Margaret Haydon and Dr. Gerard Lambert, spoke out against Health Canada, saying they had been pressured by their bosses to approve drugs despite concerns about human safety.
One of the drugs they opposed was Monsanto’s recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), meant to increase milk production in cows.
Chopra’s whistleblowing eventually led to a Senate inquiry and a decision not to approve the drug.
In 2014, Chopra founded the Canadian Council on Food Safety and Health to champion safer food production methods.
“He wanted to make our government regulators accountable for letting corporations write policy and allow these toxins in our food,” said Ken Billings, the council’s executive director.”
TRIBUTES poured in. These appeared in GM Watch:
But for Dr. Chopra, Canadians would be drinking milk produced with Monsanto’s risky GM bovine growth hormone.
We were very sad to hear about the death of Dr Shiv Chopra, a courageous scientist who never forgot that his first and last duty was to serve the public and not corporate interests.
“I was speaking out, but it was my duty to speak out.”
– Dr Shiv Chopra, September 2017
“The tragic experience of Shiv Chopra as a whistleblower should be required reading, not just in institutions of higher learning but at every level of government in Canada. His chilling story centres on Monsanto’s flagship genetically engineered product rBST, commercialized as Posilac, but more broadly, profiles the ongoing conflict between corporate influence and government policy in Canada. Canada joined most of the rest of the world in declining to approve Posilac for injecting into Canadian dairy cows to increase milk production. For this, Canadians can thank the integrity of Shiv Chopra, and his colleagues Margaret Haydon and Gerard Lambert at Health Canada, despite terrible costs to themselves. It is difficult to see how the public good has been served by the decades-long government effort to stifle the well-founded concerns of these courageous whistleblowers. We must remember, and celebrate, these true Canadian heroes.” – Ann Clark, associate professor (ret.), University of Guelph, Canada
“One of the first public events on genetic engineering that I ever organized was with Dr. Chopra almost two decades ago. We invited him to speak about how genetically engineered foods were regulated, but on the day of the event he got a fax, email and registered letter from his employer telling him he could lose his job at Health Canada if he spoke at our event. He spoke anyway – and started a wave of influential events that continue to challenge corporate power to this day. He was astonishingly courageous, committed and persistent. His dedication to his public duty continues to be an inspiration.” – Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network
The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network said “Dr. Shiv Chopra was a strong and vibrant champion of science in the service of the public good. He has left behind a loving family and a legacy of committed, courageous campaigning for justice and accountability. Dr. Chopra was a dedicated public servant who shed light on how our food is regulated in Canada and the dangerous influence that corporate power can have on government decision-making, if public servants are not willing to speak up.
Dr. Chopra detailed his saga in his book, “Corrupt to the Core: Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower” (2010), and some of his work and history is documented on his website http://shivchopra.com/
A summary of what happened in Canada over Bovine Growth Hormone and the role that Dr. Chopra played is posted at https://cban.ca/the-story-of-bovine-growth-hormone-in-canada/ ”
COMMENTS from saddened, grateful Canadians in the Ottawa Citizen, in response to an article published on January 10, 2018, “Whistleblower Shiv Chopra remembered for ‘speaking truth to power’ ”.
Deborah Jeffrey · Algonquin College
It was my good fortune to know and work with Shiv in the early days. None of us dreamt then that our Civil Service would stop being civil. But it did, for many researchers. It is my hope that reason for operating in good faith will someday be restored. Thank you Shiv for being stubborn and I send my sympathies to Nirmela and sons.
Dee Nicholson · U. Manitoba
Shiv Chopra, our whistleblowing hero, saved all Canadians from deleterious health effects, even though many did not know his name. He fought against moneyed interests to his last breath, and despite the horrendous attacks leveled against him and his work, was always the consummate gentleman in words and deeds. His dignity and diligence, his unstinting words of truth and genuine concern, led him to become a warrior for truth beyond compare, and I was honored to consider him a friend. It was such a privilege to know him personally! To his loving wife Nirmala, a whistleblower in her own right, and his family, you must know that all of us who met him deeply share your loss. It is to be hoped that his wisdom, his work, his words, and his courage will be carried on by those who are left behind and will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, my friend: you have earned your sweet rest, We will be forever grateful.
Shiv was a dedicated scientist and public servant. I had the pleasure of working with him on many files including the strengthening of “whistle blower” protection and food safety. Every Canadian benefited from his work on preventing the use of bovine growth hormone in our milk supply. Along with his colleagues he cautioned the government of the day about the use of “rendered” materials of other animals in animal feed to prevent “mad cow” disease.
Shiv was also a beautiful poet and a deeply spiritual person I will miss him greatly.
I had the pleasure and honour of knowing Dr. Shiv Chopra, a public servant dedicated to public good, and a scientist who was not afraid to stand firm for his convictions. I am glad that PIPSC stood by him, but the system did not treat him well. He did earn the respect of fellow public servants and scientists, though. RIP.
Eleanor Binette Evans
His work on behalf of Canadians was so important. He had the guts and determination to stand up for our health. He will not be forgotten.