Parliamentary Research Branch


PRB 98-1E


Prepared by:
Frédéric Forge
Science and Technology Division
October 1998

In September and October 1998, there were two important developments regarding recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST).

First, at the request of the Health Protection Branch, Health Canada scientists studied the rbST risk assessment process and found that the evaluation of the risks of rbST for humans had not been conducted in compliance with the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act. They also noted shortcomings in the scientific data and some uncertainty about the long-term effects of rbST on human health.

These scientists also expressed fears about the data provided by Health Canada to the two groups of independent experts currently conducting an assessment. These two groups of experts, under the auspices of the Canadian Veterinary Medicine Association with respect to animal health, and under the auspices of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada with respect to human health, are to publish their report in early 1999.

Next, the conference of the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s Committee on general principles was held in September 1998. This Committee began a study on the possibility of taking into account other than scientific criteria (for example, social and economic criteria) in setting Codex standards for rbST. This study will probably be of assistance in determining whether criteria other than public health criteria should be taken into account in registering new products.