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Hormones used in livestock production

Petition: No. 203

Issue(s): Agriculture, human health/environmental health, science and technology, waste management, and water

Petitioner(s): Beyond Factory Farming Coalition

Date Received: 29 May 2007

Status: Completed

Summary: The petition raises concerns about the potential impact of hormone use in livestock production on human health and the environment. The petitioner asks for more details on hormone use, relevant federal legislation, research, and surveillance. The petitioner also requests information on the health implications, including links to cancer and childhood development, and on the impacts on wildlife.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada

Petition

Date: May 28, 2007

Contact information
Cathy Holtslander
Beyond Factory Farming Coalition
#501-230 22nd Street East
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7N 0E9
Phone (306) 955-6454, Fax (306) 955-6455
Email cathyh@beyondfactoryfarming.org

Title of petition

Ecological and human health effects of hormones released into the environment as a result of intensive livestock production in Canada.

Background information

  • Synthetic and natural hormones are used in intensive beef and swine production in Canada as growth promoters and reproductive regulators.

Trenbolone acetate, zeranol, melengestrol acetate, testosterone, progesterone, estradiol benzoate and estradiol -17ß are approved for use as growth promotors in livestock production in Canada. They are administered via implants in the animals ear, except for melengestrol acetate which is mixed with feed. Medroxyprogesterone is approved for use as an estrus regulator. Cloprostenol and prostaglandin F2a are also approved as reproductive regulators.

Pregnant sows and cows have naturally elevated hormone levels, and secrete these hormones in their urine. Indeed, there is a whole industry based on extracting hormones from livestock urine—the Pregnant Mare Urine (PMU) industry. Manure from dairy barns and farrowing barns would have high levels of hormones present.

Recent statistics (http://www.statcan.ca/english/agcensus2006/articles/snapshot.htm#2) show that there are over 15 million pigs on farms in Canada. Sows make up a high proportion of this population, as a considerable percentage of the weanling pigs are exported to the US for finishing and slaughter. Thus manure from pregnant sows, and sows treated with estrus-regulating hormones, would make up a significant proportion of hog manure produced.

The use of growth promoters in beef feedlots is standard practice. The majority of beef animals are finished in feedlots. Recent statistics (http://www.statcan.ca/english/
agcensus2006/articles/snapshot.htm#2) indicate there are nearly 16 million cattle raised in Canada each year. Considering the life span of the animals, the dosages of the hormones, the rate of excretion, the amount of hormones being released into the environment is significant.

Manure is concentrated in areas of human population density as well. See below, Statistics Canada's Manure Map of Canada (http://www.statcan.ca/
english/freepub/16F0025XIB/m/manure.htm.) The darker shades indicate the highest concentration of manure.

Note that the highest concentrations of manure occur in Southern Ontario and Quebec along the Great Lakes and St Laurence River, in central Alberta between Edmonton and Calgary, around Vancouver, and around Winnipeg. Any hormone pollution due to run-off and leaching of manure from intensive livestock operations would have an impact on millions of Canadians.

 

  • There are health and environmental concerns about estrogen mimicking chemicals in the environment originating from certain plastics. There are health and environmental concerns about hormones from human pharmaceuticals that survive sewage treatment being discharged into the environment. Hormones released from intensive livestock operations raise the same issues.

Hormones are chemical messengers that provide signals at the cellular level to control normal physical development and many organ functions of living things, as well as the timing of physiological processes such as reproduction. Environmental chemicals that mimic the organism's own hormones interfere with these signals, leading to problems such as birth defects, feminization of males and masculinization of females—leading to reproductive problems, excess weight gain, early or delayed onset of puberty, excessive growth of susceptible cells such as hormone affected prostate cancer and breast cancer, etc. For example, one of the approved livestock hormones is medroxyprogesterone, which is known to cause birth defects in babies if the mother is exposed.

Hormones operate at vanishingly small quantities, so even minute traces of a synthetic hormone, hormone mimicking substance or natural hormone in the environment can have significant biological effects. Timing of exposure in relation to the organism's or cell's development is of great significance. For example: "Identification of low-dose effects that are different from those seen at high doses, the importance of timing of exposure, recognition of the unique effects that can be disrupted during development, and genetic variation in genetically-determined susceptibility, render the overly simplistic assumptions previously used in risk assessment invalid for many environmental chemicals." from page 110, "The Emerging Science of Endocrine Disruption" by J.P. Myers, L.J., Guillette, Jr., P.Palanza, S.Parmigiani, S.H. Swann and F.S. Vom Saal, in the World Scientific Journal, 2004.

There is a new field of research, called "developmental origins of health and adult disease" that investigates the relationship between fetal exposure to environmental hormones and later development of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, decreased fertility, impaired immune function and neurological deficits.

 

  • Environmental exposure to hormones has also been associated with abnormalities in wildlife and fish particularly regarding reproductive development.

For an overview of this issue, please see "Hormones: Here's the Beef: Environmental concerns reemerge over steroids given to livestock" by Janet Raloff in Science News Online.

In water downstream of a beef feedlot where growth promoting hormones were used, female fish were found to have physical characteristics of breeding males, while males had reduced sex characteristics as a result of excessive male hormone in the water. This observation has implications for reproductive success of fish populations, and other wildlife similarly exposed to hormones. See "Endocrine-Disrupting Effects of Cattle Feedlot Effluent on an Aquatic Sentinel Species, the Fathead Minnow." by Edward F. Orlando et al in Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 112, 2004

 

  • Studies have shown elevated hormone levels downstream of intensive livestock operations.

A British study measured hormone concentration upstream and downstream of livestock farms. It showed that concentration of hormones in the downstream water was significantly higher. See "Contamination of headwater streams in the United Kingdom by oestrogenic hormones from livestock farms" by Matthiessen P. et al in Science of the total environment (Sci. total environ.)  2006, vol. 367, no2-3, pp. 616-630  

  • Livestock is increasingly raised in intensive livestock operations in Canada. There are intensive hog operations that house 9,000 pregnant sows in one barn. There are feedlots that hold 20,000 beef animals, all with hormone implants.

  • Manure from intensive livestock operations that contains synthetic and natural hormone is stored in large manure piles, lagoons and/or tanks, and is then spread on surrounding farmland. Manure is subject to run-off into surface waters, as well as leaching into the ground water.

Specific questions

  1. What methods and resources are being used for tracking the types, quantities, and environmental fate of synthetic and natural hormones used in, or resulting from, intensive livestock production? CFIA, Agriculture Canada, Environment Canada
  2. What are the amounts, locations and distribution of synthetic and natural hormones that enter surface water and ground water as a result of being present in livestock waste? Environment Canada, Agriculture Canada
  3. What are the health implications of the environmental presence of these hormones for human embryonic, fetal and childhood development as well as the health of Canadian adults? Health Canada
  4. What are the health implications of the environmental presence of these hormones for hormone-linked cancers, such as prostate cancer and breast cancer? Health Canada
  5. What are the ecological effects of the environmental presence of these hormones for fish and wildlife populations? Environment Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  6. What kind of research is the government doing to assess the health and ecological impacts of the hormones used in and/or resulting from intensive livestock production? Environment Canada, Health Canada
  7. What resources are being devoted to monitoring, surveillance and research regarding natural and synthetic hormones use in and/or resulting from intensive livestock production? CFIA, Environment Canada, Health Canada
  8. What Canadian laws and regulations exist to control the release of hormones originating from intensive livestock operations into the environment?
  9. What methods and resources are used to enforce these laws and regulations? CFIA, Environment Canada, Health Canada

Federal departments and agencies that need to respond

Health Canada
Environment Canada
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Agriculture Canada
Department of Fisheries and Oceans

[Original signed by Cathy Holtslander]

Cathy Holtslander
May 28, 2007

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Minister's Response: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

17 September 2007

Ms. Cathy Holtslander
Community Organizer
Beyond Factory Farming Coalition
501-230 22nd Street East
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7K 0E9

Dear Ms. Holtslander:

Thank you for your environmental petition 203, entitled "Ecological and human health effects of hormones released into the environment as a result of intensive livestock production in Canada." On June 11, 2007, the Interim Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development forwarded the petition to me, along with the ministers of Health, Environment, and Fisheries and Oceans.

In your petition, you posed questions under the Auditor General Act regarding the effects of hormones released into the environment. I am providing the enclosed response to five questions related to the mandate of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The other questions contained in the petition are being addressed, where applicable, by the appropriate federal departments independently.

Again, thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention.

Sincerely,

[Original signed by Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board]

Gerry Ritz, PC, MP

Enclosure

c.c:

Mr. Ron Thompson
Interim Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development


RESPONSE OF THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD TO
ENVIRONMENTAL PETITION 203 FILED BY A CITIZEN (C. HOLTSLANDER) UNDER
THE
AUDITOR GENERAL ACT
(RECEIVED MAY 29, 2007):

Ecological and human health effects of hormones released into the environment as a result of intensive livestock production in Canada
October 6, 2007

Table of Contents

Background

i

Response to Petitioner's Questions Posed to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Question 1

1

Question 2

1

Question 7

2

Question 8

3

Question 9

3

Background

On May 29, 2007, a citizen from Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Cathy Holtslander (hereinafter referred to as the Petitioner) filed Petition 203 (hereinafter referred to as the Petition) with the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, pursuant to Section 22 of the Auditor General Act. The Petition contains questions regarding concerns about ecological and human health effects of hormones released into the environment as a result of intensive livestock production in Canada. The Petition contains a total of 9 questions that fall under the mandates of several Ministers. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) have provided a combined response to questions 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9 contained herein. Each of the other relevant federal departments and agencies will be responding separately.

The Petition was sent by the Office of the Auditor General to the petitioned Ministers on June 11, 2007. For this reason, the 120 days allowed for the Government of Canada to respond to the Petition, as expressed in the Auditor General Act, began on June 11, 2007.

The Petition process set out in Section 22 of the Auditor General Act is a means by which Canadians can express their views while seeking more information on matters of federal policy in the context of the environment and sustainable development. The Government of Canada wishes to assure the Petitioner and other Canadians that responsible stewardship of human health, animal health, biodiversity, and the environment is of priority to the Government of Canada.

The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development forwarded the Petition to the following Ministers for response:

Minister of the Environment
Minister of Health
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

The response provided by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food reflects the roles and responsibilities of the CFIA and| AAFC in the context of this matter.

Responses to Petitioner's Questions

Question 1: What methods and resources are being used for tracking the types, quantities and environmental fate of synthetic and natural hormones used in, or resulting from, intensive livestock?

Health Canada evaluates and approves medications for use in animals including those that may be mixed into livestock feeds. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), using the authority of the federal Feeds Act, monitors the manufacture of feeds containing medications primarily through facility inspection, label inspection and feed sampling and testing programs at feed mills and farms in Canada. These programs seek to verify that the use of medications complies with drug approval conditions or with the other conditions as prescribed in the approval by Health Canada and with the Feeds Regulations. As part of the Feeds Regulations, detailed conditions and instructions respecting feed-additive medications are set out in the Compendium of Medicating Ingredients Brochures (CMIB)., maintained and published by the CFIA. The CFIA does not track overall drug use and the environmental fate of drugs.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) has quantified reproductive hormone (testosterone) activities in all of the major organic fertilizers used in Canadian agriculture by means of recombinant yeast and tissue culture bioassays that respond to androgenic or estrogenic hormones or analogues. This has included an analysis of excretion of implanted hormonal substances from beef cattle which demonstrated testosterone is rapidly biodegraded under the range of conditions typical to those observed in Canada and thus is unlikely to pose long-term risk to environment. Organic fertilizers are materials that are of fecal origin from livestock, poultry or humans, and include sewage sludge, or biosolids. (Lorenzen, Angela et al., 2005, "Persistence and Pathways of Testosterone Dissipation in Agricultural Soil". J. Environ. Qual. 34: 854-860).

AAFC research in this area is valued at approximately $250,000 per year over the last 8 years, for a total of about $2 million. Additional details about resources spent in this area are listed in our response to question 7 below.

Question 2: What are the amounts, locations and distribution of synthetic and natural hormones that enter surface water and ground water as a result of being present in livestock waste?

AAFC does not directly measure the amounts, locations and distribution of synthetic and natural hormones that enter surface water and ground water as a result of being present in livestock waste. However, AAFC has characterized, by means of chemical, bioassay, and radioisotope methodologies, the persistence of natural (e.g. 17B-estradiol, estrone) and synthetic (e.g., 17a-ethynylestradiol, 4-nonylphenol) hormones in soils. Research to date indicates that both natural and synthetic hormones under study rapidly degrade in soil and on this basis do not pose a significant risk to surface and ground water quality if manure or biosolids are applied appropriately. (Colucci, M.S., and E. Topp, 2002, "Dissipation of part per trillion concentrations of estrogenic hormones in agricultural soils", Can. J. Soil Sci. 82: 335-340).

Question 7: What resources are being devoted to monitoring, surveillance and research regarding the natural and synthetic hormones use in and /or resulting from intensive livestock production?

The surveillance and research regarding natural and synthetic hormones in and/or resulting from intensive livestock production is not an area Where the CFIA devotes resources. The CFIA does operate an extensive program to monitor chemical residues including veterinary drugs, pesticides, environmental and industrial pollutants in food. The National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP) gathers information which can be used to determine the occurrence of contaminants in the food supply. One element under the NCRMP includes hormonal growth promotants, for which the CFIA monitors for levels of hormones in food producing animals.

Residue reports are posted as a source of information for the public, media, industry groups and scientific community. All of the information is available on the CFIA website at: http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/microchem/resid/reside.shtml

AAFC research in this area is valued at approximately $250,000 per year over the last 8 years, for a total of about $2 million. AAFC scientists at numerous research centres across the country, in partnership with Environment Canada, Health Canada and others, have determined the nature and quantity of hormonal substances in organic fertilizers produced by all of the major intensive Canadian production systems, and their persistence in agricultural soils. This information was published in refereed journals: Lorenzen et al. 2005. Persistence and Pathways of Testosterone Dissipation in Agricultural Soil. J. Environ. Qual. 34:854-860; Lorenzen et al. 2006. Persistence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in agricultural soils. Environ. Eng. Sci. 5: 211-219; Jacobsen et al. 2005. Persistence of Testosterone and 17B-Estradiol in Soils Receiving Swine Manure or Municipal Biosolids. J. Environ. Qual. 34:861-871; Colucci and Topp. 2002. Dissipation of part-per-trillion concentrations of estrogenic hormones from agricultural soils. Can. J. Soil Science. 82:335-340; Lorenzen et al. 2004. Survey of Hormone Activities in Municipal Biosolids and Animal Manures. Environ. Toxicol. 19:216-225.

Overall, the federal research effort addressing these questions has been a coordinated one involving all of the key science departments, as well as collaboration with international and academic organizations.

Question 8: What Canadian laws and regulations exist to control the release of hormones originating from intensive livestock operations into the environment?

Subsection 36 (3) of the Fisheries Act deals with the deposition of a deleterious substance into Canadian waters and is administered by Environment Canada. This does not fall under the mandate of the CFLA/AAFC; therefore Environment Canada will be providing a response to this question.

Question 9: What methods and resources are used to enforce these laws and regulations?

Environment Canada is responsible for the enforcement of subsection 36 (3) and the subsequent pollution prevention provision of the Fisheries Act if it applies. This does not fall under the mandate of CFIA/AAFC; therefore Environment Canada will be providing a response to the question.

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Minister's Response: Environment Canada

11 October 2007

Ms. Cathy Holtslander
Community Organizer
Beyond Factory Farming Coalition
501 - 230 22nd Street East
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7K 0E9

Dear Ms. Holtslander:

I am pleased to provide Environment Canada's response to your Environmental Petition no. 203, to the Interim Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, regarding ecological and human health effects of hormones released into the environment as a result of intensive livestock production in Canada. Your petition was received in the Department on June 8.

The enclosed document contains replies to questions 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9, which concern my department. I understand that the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister responsible for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Honourable Gerry Ritz; the Minister of Health, the Honourable Tony Clement; and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, the Honourable Loyola Hearn, will be responding separately to questions in your petition that relate to their respective mandates and regulatory responsibilities.

I appreciate this opportunity to respond to your petition, and trust that you will find this information helpful.

Sincerely,

[Original signed by John Baird, Minister of the Environment]

John Baird, P.C., M.P.

Enclosure

c.c.:

The Honourable Gerry Ritz, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Loyola Hearn, P.C., M.P.
Mr. Ronald C. Thompson, Interim Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development

Environment Canada response to Environmental Petition no. 203, pursuant to section 22 of the Auditor General Act, regarding ecological and human health effects of hormones released into the environment as a result of intensive livestock production in Canada.

Question 1: What methods and resources are being used for tracking the types, quantities, and environmental fate of synthetic and natural hormones used in, or resulting from, intensive livestock production?

Environment Canada is not involved in documenting hormone use in intensive livestock production. Although the Department's Water Science and Technology Directorate is currently not involved in monitoring hormones from intensive livestock production, there are plans to do research in this area. The Directorate has an extensive program of research on the environmental occurrence, persistence, fate and effects of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (including some veterinary antibiotics), some of which are synthetic and natural hormones. Related hormone research is described in Environment Canada's answers to questions 5 and 6.

Question 2: What are the amounts, locations and distribution of synthetic and natural hormones that enter surface water and ground water as a result of being present in livestock waste?

Environment Canada has no information on this issue.

Question 5: What are the ecological effects of the environmental presence of these hormones for fish and wildlife populations?

Although Environment Canada has no information on hormones used in or resulting from livestock production, it has some information on the effects of ethinylestradiol (human birth control pill) and other pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs):

a) Despite concerns about potential risks associated with the presence of PPCPs in the environment, there remains a paucity of toxicological data addressing the effects of these compounds. In aquatic systems, which often represent the final repository for PPCPs, increasing toxicological information on aquatic biota is improving our capacity to assess potential risks. However, responses of key biota, such as benthic invertebrates, have not been as widely investigated. In this study, we examined the toxicity of four PPCPs, the lipid regulator atorvastatin (ATO), the antiepileptic drug carbamazepine (CBZ), the hormone 17a-ethinylestradiol (EE2), and the antimicrobial triclosan (TCS) to the midge Chironomus tentans and the freshwater shrimp Hyalella azteca, in 10-d waterborne exposures. The toxicity of the four compounds investigated varied between 0.20 and 47.3 mg·L-1 (LC50), with a relative toxicity ranking of TCS>EE2>ATO>CBZ. Hyalella azteca was more sensitive than Chironomus tentans to these compounds.

The toxicity data were used in a hazard quotient approach to evaluate the risk posed by the four PPCPs to benthic invertebrates and other aquatic organisms. For each compound, a hazard quotient was calculated by dividing the lowest toxicity value by the highest exposure value found in the literature, to which an uncertainty factor was applied. With hazard quotients of 3.55 to 11.5, we conclude that potential risks exist toward the toxicity of TCS and CBZ, and that further investigations will be required for these compounds to provide a more complete characterization of risks to benthic organisms. In contrast, our data indicate that considering the low concentrations currently detected in the environment, ATO and EE2 pose negligible risks to benthic invertebrates.

This work was reflected in an article entitled Toxicity of Human Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products to Benthic Invertebrates, which was recently accepted by the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. It was co-authored Eve B. Dussault, Vimal K. Balakrishnan, Ed Sverko, Keith Solomon, and Paul K. Sibley.

b) We have studied the effects of estrogen (ethinylestradiol, EE2, the synthetic estrogen found in oral contraceptives) and methyl testosterone in fathead minnows. Very low concentrations of EE2 were able to reduce the fertilization success of fathead minnows, and reduced the secondary sex characteristics of male minnows (please see enclosed article by Joanne L. Parrott and Beverley R. Blunt, 2005).

We have also assessed the effects of methyltestosterone in fathead minnows exposed for a lifecycle. Concentrations of 30 ng/L (nominal) were able to completely masculinize fish. EE2 and MT are not found in feedlot runoff, but the effects of synthetic estrogens and synthetic androgens can be assumed to have similar actions. The effects of estradiol (E2, the natural estrogen excreted by female mammals) are most likely similar to those of EE2. However, the concentrations of E2 required to elicit these effects in fish are 100 to 1000 x those for EE2.

Question 6: What kind of research is the government doing to assess the health and ecological impacts of the hormones used in and/or resulting from intensive livestock production?

See answer 5.a) for research description.

The research described in answer 5.b) was supported by Environment Canada and the Toxic Substance Research Initiative (TSRI), and resulted in the article by Parrott and Blunt. We have not tested manure run-off or waters downstream of intensive animal operations. We have tested municipal wastewater effluent (MWWE) and found that fathead minnows exposed to 100 percent MWWE for a lifecycle have fewer secondary sex characteristics and produce about half the eggs of control fish (exposed to lab water).

In 2002, 2004 and 2007, Environment Canada and Health Canada sponsored workshops on PPCPs in the Canadian environment. Enclosed is a summary file from the 2007 workshop. One of the recommendations of the 2007 workshop was to establish a monitoring network for PPCPs across Canada. Environment Canada is assessing which PPCPs to monitor, and will undoubtedly include E2 and testosterone in the survey.

Some recent findings from the United States suggest that intensive farming operations may result in elevated hormones in rivers, which could affect fish. Enclosed is material from a recent U.S. pharmaceutical conference, for your interest.

Question 7: What resources are being devoted to monitoring, surveillance and research regarding natural and synthetic hormone use in and/or resulting from intensive livestock production?

At present, Environment Canada is not expending any resources on the monitoring, surveillance and research of natural and synthetic hormones used in and/or resulting from intensive livestock production. However, current resource levels for research on PPCPs in the Canadian environment (including some veterinary antibiotics) and in sewage treatment plant influents, effluents and sludges are approximately 5 person years, $300,000 operations and maintenance, and $100,000 capital on an annual basis.

Question 8: What Canadian laws and regulations exist to control the release of hormones originating from intensive livestock operations into the environment?

If a hormone released from a livestock operation were to be released into water frequented by fish, and if that hormone was deleterious to fish, subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act would apply. There are no regulations under subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act that apply to this situation.

Subsection 36(3) provides as follows:

    ... no person shall deposit or permit the deposit of a deleterious substance of any type in water frequented by fish or in any place under any conditions where the deleterious substance or any other deleterious substance that results from the deposit of the deleterious substance may enter any such water.

In subsection 34(1) "deleterious substance" means:

    (a) any substance that, if added to any water, would degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of that water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent that water, or

    (b) any water that contains a substance in such quantity or concentration, or that has been so treated, processed or changed, by heat or other means, from a natural state that it would, if added to any other water, degrade or alter or form part of a process of degradation or alteration of the quality of that water so that it is rendered or is likely to be rendered deleterious to fish or fish habitat or to the use by man of fish that frequent that water,

    and without limiting the generality of the foregoing includes

    (c) any substance or class of substances prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2)(a),

    (d) any water that contains any substance or class of substances in a quantity or concentration that is equal to or in excess of a quantity or concentration prescribed in respect of that substance or class of substances pursuant to paragraph (2)(b), and

    (e) any water that has been subjected to a treatment, process or change prescribed pursuant to paragraph (2)(c);

And under subsection 34(2):

(2) The Governor in Council may make regulations prescribing

(a) substances and classes of substances,

(b) quantities or concentrations of substances and classes of substances in water, and

(c) treatments, processes and changes of water

for the purpose of paragraphs (c) to (e) of the definition "deleterious substance" in subsection (1).

Question 9: What methods and resources are used to enforce these laws and regulations?

If a hormone released from a livestock operation were to be released into water frequented by fish, and if that hormone was deleterious to fish, and if subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act applied, Environment Canada has fishery officers/fishery inspectors designated under the Fisheries Act to enforce subsection 36(3) and the subsequent pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act. In addition, Environment Canada has published jointly with Fisheries and Oceans Canada the "Compliance and Enforcement Policy for the Habitat Protection and Pollution Prevention Provisions of the Fisheries Act." Environment Canada's enforcement of the pollution prevention provisions of the Fisheries Act is done in conformity with that policy.

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Minister's Response: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

4 October 2007

Ms. Cathy Holtslander
Community Organizer
Beyond Factory Farming Coalition
501 - 230 22nd Street East
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7K 0E9

Dear Ms. Holtslander:

This letter is in response to Question 5 of your petition sent to the Office of the Auditor General of Canada on May 28, 2007. Question 5 referred to the ecological effects of the environmental presence of specified hormones on fish and wildlife populations.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has not conducted research on the impact on fish populations of those hormones specifically identified in your letter. However, for your information, the Department has conducted research on the effects on fish populations of synthetic estrogens (specifically ethynylestradiol) found in municipal wastewaters. The publications resulting from this research are listed below:

    Kidd K, PJ Blanchfield, K Mills, VP Palace, RE Evans, J Lazorchak and B Flick. 2007. Collapse of a fish population following exposure to a synthetic estrogen. PNAS. 104:8897-8901.

    Werner J, K Wautier, K Mills, S Chalanchuk, K Kidd, VP Palace. 2005. Reproductive fitness of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of the potent estrogen ethynylestradiol (EE2) in a whole lake exposure experiment. Proceedings of the 29th Larval Fish Conference, Barcelona Sp, July 11-14, 2005 Scientia Marina, 70S2:59-66.

    Palace VP, K Wautier, RE Evans, P Blanchfield, K Mills, S Chalanchuk, D Godard, ME McMaster , G Tetrault, LE Peters, L Vandenbyllaardt and K Kidd. 2006. Biochemical and Biochemical and Histopathological Effects of Ethynylestradiol in Pearl Dace (Margariscus margarita) Chronically Exposed to the Synthetic Estrogen in a Whole Lake Experiment. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 25:260-271.

    Palace VP, RE Evans, K Wautier, L Vandenbyllardt, W Vandersteen, K Kidd. 2002. Induction of vitellogenin and histological effects in wild fathead minnows from a lake experimentally treated with the synthetic estrogen, ethynylestradiol. Wat. Qual. Res. J. Can. 37:637-650.

Thank you for conveying your concerns on this matter.

Sincerely,

[Original signed by Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans]

Loyola Hearn, P.C., M.P.

c.c.:

The Honourable Gerry Ritz, P.C., M.P., Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister of the Canadian Wheat Board
The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P., Minister of the Environment
The Honourable Tony Clement, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health and
Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario
Mr. Ronald C. Thompson, Interim Commissioner of the Environment
and Sustainable Development

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Minister's Response: Health Canada

5 October 2007

Ms. Cathy Holtslander
Community Organizer
Beyond Factory Farming Coalition
501 - 230 22nd Street East
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
S7K 0E9

Dear Ms. Holtslander:

This is in response to your environmental petition no. 203 of May 28, 2007, addressed to Mr. Ron Thompson, Interim Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

In your petition, you raised concerns about the potential impact of hormone use in livestock production on human health and the environment.

I am pleased to provide you with the enclosed response to your petition from Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

I understand that the Ministers of the Environment, Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Fisheries and Oceans will be responding separately to questions which come under the purview of their respective departments.

I appreciate your interest in this important matter, and I hope you will find the information useful.

Yours sincerely,

[Original signed by Tony Clement, Minister of Health and the Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario]

Tony Clement

Enclosure

c.c.:

Mr. Ronald C. Thompson, Interim Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development
The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Gerry Ritz, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Loyola Hearn, P.C., M.P.


Health Canada (HC) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Response to Environmental Petition No. 203:
Ecological and Human Health Effects of Hormones Released
into the Environment
as a Result of Intensive Livestock Production in Canada

Question 3 (HC and PHAC response)

What are the health implications of the environmental presence of these hormones for human embryonic, fetal and childhood development as well as the health of Canadian adults?

Neither HC nor PHAC has conducted any studies on this matter.

Questions 4 and 6 (PHAC response)

4) What are the health implications of the environmental presence of these hormones for hormone-linked cancers, such as prostate cancer and breast cancer? And

6) What kind of research is the government doing to assess the health and ecological impacts of the hormones used in and/or resulting from intensive livestock production?

After consultation with our specialists in the Infectious Disease and Emergency Preparedness Branch and the Public Health Practice Branch at PHAC, it was concluded that, currently, no one is working on the topic area of the petition at the Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses, and in fact, we were unable to identify any university colleagues working in this specific area.

PHAC's focus has been on infectious diseases of animals (including antimicrobial resistance) that are transmitted to humans. In the past, PHAC specialists have done some work with university colleagues on chemicals/toxins in watersheds and illness in humans downstream. PHAC has not yet looked at the issue of hormone use on farms and the potential links with human illness.

Environment Canada (EC) has identified some research in this area in their response to question 6 of your petition.

Question 7 (HC response)

What resources are being devoted to monitoring, surveillance and research regarding natural and synthetic hormones use in and/or resulting from intensive livestock production?

EC will provide an answer to this question in its response to your petition.

Question 8 (HC response)

What Canadian laws and regulations exist to control the release of hormones originating from intensive livestock operations into the environment?

Using the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) and CEPA regulations such as the New Substances Notification Regulations (Chemicals and Polymers) and the New Substances Notification Regulations (Organisms), HC and Environment Canada can assess new substances before they are allowed to be manufactured or imported into Canada. These regulations specify information and data requirements that must be submitted to the Government before the quantity manufactured in, or imported into, Canada exceeds a specified amount. The Environmental Assessment Unit of HC conducts environmental risk assessments under these regulations. With regard to veterinary drugs, the assessments determine the potential impact to the environment and human health resulting from environmental exposure to these substances. Substances already found on the market are equally being assessed to determine whether they are toxic as defined in CEPA. Recommendations for mitigation measures are proposed, when required.

Question 9 (HC response)

What methods and resources are used to enforce these laws and regulations?

The enforcement of the New Substances Notification Regulations is the responsibility of Environment Canada.