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Fluoride Guru in Town

Our anti-fluoridation lobby raised its spirits at a meeting on 18 February to hear their long-time guru – Dr Paul Connett from Canada via Cornell. Dr Connett stirred the 30 or so who attended with rousing calls to action, and a raft of research to back up his contention that fluoride is not only dangerous, but unnecessary. Council will consider the Community Board recommendation to continue fluoridation during the Annual Plan, and those attending were exhorted to further submit to that process. Winning in Thames is seen as critical to the national campaign.

Unfortunately, even though there may have been timely warnings in Dr Connett’s  presentation, he squandered credibility with intemperate attacks on the integrity, honesty and even the reading ability of every government and district health board dental officer, and medical practitioner - in fact anyone who opposes his quixotic campaign to have fluoride removed wherever it is currently used.

His presentation totally lacked balance, and his strident challenges to opponents to come out and debate were reminiscent of over-bearing North American revivalist preachers - hardly likely to encourage any similarly qualified proponent to risk ridicule – particularly in front of such a partisan audience. As for debate - his inability to answer a simple question regarding his failure to once mention the almost total and unique absence of naturally occurring fluoride in New Zealand water supplies that led to its introduction was revealing. He admitted that universities and health authorities in this country are no longer prepared to debate, or countenance his attacks - he does not appear to be highly regarded by many professionals in the field.  

Dr Connett’s heavy reliance on discredited research based on Chinese villages where fluoride occurs naturally in vastly greater concentrations than anywhere else is further evidence that his campaign has reached a dead end. His related claims regarding IQ in particular, while plausible, were revealed as ludicrous on closer examination. And his reference to the former Auckland Government Dental Advisor, the late Dr John Colquhoun was enlightening - Colquhoun remains the darling of the anti-fluoride lobby all over the world, but his arguments were long ago described by his peers as based on statistical chicanery at best.

One valid matter that Dr Connett raised related to the almost complete absence of recent credible research into the long term effects of fluoride use in this country. Our Ministry of Health can no longer ignore this – it leaves itself open to continuing  attack by Connett and others on this score alone. 

Council decided on Wednesday to accept the recommendation from the Thames Community Board that fluoridation continue in the Thames water supply. This will now go to further public consultation during the Annual Plan process. The 'antis' will be out in full, but I expect them to get short shrift. Strat's great filtration subsidy idea went the way you would expect - Mayor Leach treated it with appropriate disdain. But staff are expected to 'investigate means by which non-believers can opt out'. Boy, that's a curly one!

I decline to open comments on this subject - everyone's position is well firmed up, and opening it up to the 'crazies' will simply stir up passions that are best left to the ballot box. Frankly, I am sick of it, and have not heard a decent 'new' argument in ten years of being quite close to it. I am certainly not prepared to open it up for 'Michael' to mount another personal abuse rant.  




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