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Microbiologists and biologists want to join the chemists guild

MONTREAL – The Association of Microbiologists of Quebec (AMQ) and the Association of Microbiologists of Quebec (ABQ) are calling for a professional order to ensure better protection of the public and prevent negative consequences of misinformation.

In an open letter titled “The Professional System at the Service of Protecting the Public from Scientific Misinformation,” AMQ President Mark Hamilton suggested that Quebec microbiologists and biologists join the Ordre des chimistes du Québec (OCQ), thus creating a new scientific group.

The declaration, signed by Michel Sayegh, President of OCQ, and Marie-Christine Bellemare, President of ABQ, affirms that these three professions “share an important relationship.” [sur le plan] knowledge and practical backgrounds, particularly in the health sector.” This merger will ensure access to the disciplinary mechanisms associated with usurpation of title, making it possible to better protect the public from “certain conspiratorial rhetoric and pseudoscience” and to organize the training of future scientists.

“The CAQ government favors the marriages of professional orders, because it is much faster and, above all, less costly for the state and for the orders that want to enjoy an established shell,” explains Ms. Hamilton in an interview.

In discussions with ministries “for several years,” AMQ and ABQ have aimed to obtain the commitment of the Office of the Occupations of Quebec (OPQ) to be able to formally present their candidacy, and hopefully you will be the next to be heard.

“In this mandate, we want the government and the OPQ to commit to starting the process. (…) They are very open and interested in hearing from us, but we don’t have a date yet,” specifies Mr. Hamilton, adding that both associations were ready to start legal action.

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Reducing misinformation

In addition to ensuring their recognition, membership in the professional system will allow microbiologists and biologists to join forces in communication, promotion, and public education.

“During the pandemic, when vaccines appeared, many people called themselves microbiologists and made propaganda saying, for example, that the vaccine would modify their DNA. (…) Without a professional order, it would have been impossible for us to impose sanctions or sue these people or investigate them,” says Mark Hamilton.

According to a 2021 study by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), nearly 2.35 million Canadians have refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, resulting in 2,800 deaths and spending at least $300 million on healthcare, hospital and intensive care visits.

“We could have helped the government spread the message and intercept the so-called microbiology experts,” he said. We do not claim that we could have avoided 2,800 deaths, but we could have helped avoid inventions of gossip and quackery regarding the use of vaccines or medicines against COVID during the worst of the pandemic.

Mr. Hamilton also deplores the fact that biologists and microbiologists were not considered, during the 2020 Ministerial Decree, to assist in the analysis and collection of COVID-19 tests.

At the height of the pandemic, the government sought help from most professional orders, including acupuncturists, podiatrists, optometrists and midwives, to conduct and follow up on screening tests. Due to a lack of professionalism, microbiologists and biologists were unable to participate in the effort, a decision that left the microbiologist “stunned”.

“We would have been an essential additional help in the middle of crisis management. (…) We know the science, we analyze it and we have developed the methods, but we can’t even get involved, just to give out the results of the COVID test,” adds Mark Hamilton.

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The President confirms that the association will continue its discussions with the Cabinet of the Chair of the Treasury Board, Sonia Leibel, as well as repeating its request to the Office of Quality Control.

This article was produced with financial support from Meta Fellowships and The Canadian Press for News.