Fluoride Action Network

The 3rd Citizen’s Conference on Fluoride

August 14, 2008 | Report on Conference by Paul Connett, FAN Director

Toronto triple event a HUGE success

August 14, 2008

We are still recovering from the Triple event (August 7-11) in Toronto, however here is a quick report.

  • August 7-9:  International Society for Fluoride Research conference, at the U. of Toronto (Mississauga campus)
  • August 10-11:  Fluoride Action Network conference, August 10-11, also at U. of Toronto
  • August 11:  7 pm: Presentation on Fluoride’s Effect on the Brain by Dr. Vyvyan Howard, and others, at the United Steelworker’s Union Hall in Toronto, sponsored by FAN and Toronto-based Citizens for a Safe Environment

In short, it exceeded our wildest expectations.

We got off to a roaring start with a media conference on Thursday August 7 in the media room of the Ontario parliamentary building (Queens Park). The press conference featured Dr. Vyvyan Howard, myself, Karen Buck (President of the Citizens for a Safe Environment (CSE)  and Cindy Mayor, a citizen leading the effort to get fluoridation stopped in Hamilton, Ontario. The media conference was well covered. After that I was whisked off to the CTV studios to do a live 6 minute interview which went onto their network news program which was repeated every hour. Thus, before any events had started we were already getting national media coverage!

Early the next morning Dr. Vyvyan Howard appeared live on CTV’s morning national news program to talk about fluoride’s impact on the brain, and later that morning this was followed by four radio interviews with Diane Sprules (Oakville); Cindy Mayor (Hamilton); Gilles Parent (Montreal) and Vyvyan Howard.  We have never experienced so much media interest before, and this alone vindicated the decision to locate these events in Canada rather than the US.

The ISFR conference (August 8,9) held on the Missasauga campus of the University of Toronto featured presentations from fluoride specialists from around the world (Canada, China, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, UK and the US). There were many important presentations but the most exciting for me were 1) the opening address by Kathleen Thiessen (fluoride and endocrine function); 2) two addresses from Dr. A.K. Susheela (fluoride and the hard tissues and fluoride and the soft tissues) and 3) Dr. Vyvyan Howard’s review of fluoride’s impacts on the brain. In the next few days or weeks I will be doing my best to edit the tapes of these presentations and upload them on Google so that those who couldn’t get to the conference will have the benefit of listening to these brilliant and insightful minds.

As I am still getting my breath back, I do not have time to go into the details of any of the other presentations right now but hopefully over the next few days I will be able to do so.

At the Saturday evening banquet of the ISFR conference this year’s winners of FAN’s Albert Burgstahler Scientific Integrity Award were recognized. They were Dr. Kathleen Thiessen, Dr. Bob Isaacson and Dr. Hardy Limeback, the host and key organizer of the ISFR conference. All three were panel members of the landmark National Research Council review “Fluoride in Drinking Water” (NRC, 2006).

There were about 100 attendees of the ISFR conference and about 50 of them stayed on for the FAN conference. These were joined by another half a dozen citizens or so who came in from local cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Oshawa and Brantford. In total, we had about 60 people attend the FAN conference, with people coming from as far away as Australia, China, India, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK, as well as 5 provinces in Canada and 11 states in the US. We had some exciting regional strategy sessions. Everyone was inspired by the rapid progress Canadian citizens are having resisting and ending fluoridation in several cities, particularly in Ontario and Quebec – with several more anticipated in coming months.

These Canadian citizens are developing a formidable coalition. They are well-informed, well organized and highly motivated. They include: Cindy Mayor from Hamilton; Carol and Bill Clinch from Waterloo, and also Robert Flemming from Waterloo; Chris Gupta from London; Diane Sprules from Oakville; Aliss Terpstra and Karen Buck from Toronto and many others from Ontario; Gilles Parent from Montreal; Jimmy Siles from Quebec City and Elke Babiuk from Calgary. A key player in all this is Peter Van Caulart, who heads up a training institute in Ontario which educates water operators throughout Canada. He has an article published in the July issue of   Environmental Science & Engineering entitled “Canadian water provides ceasing artificial fluoridation.” The effort to end fluoridation in Ontario has also won the support of the Ontario Green party and coalition members also expect to win support from other powerful environmental groups.

Early on in the proceedings we showed a 30 minute videotape produced by Michael Connett (filming by Kevin Hurley) entitled “Professional Perspectives on Water Fluoridation.” About 14 professionals were featured in this, including at least seven who attended the conference. This videotape – still in a draft form – was enthusiastically received and led to a lively discussion with many suggestions on how the editing might be refined and how the tape might be used.

The FAN conference again heard from Dr. Vyvyan Howard and Dr. Susheela and we also heard from Dr. Bill Osmunson, who presented the evidence that swallowing fluoride does little to reduce tooth decay. Dr. Andrew Harms, the former President of the South Australian Dental Association (ADA, SA), explained how he came to change his mind on fluoridation and the laughable efforts by the ADA, SA to prevent him from referring to his former position with the organization!

We also heard – via a 30-minute videotape recording – from Dr. Shiv Chopra who worked for Health Canada for 35 years before he was fired for being a little too outspoken. Dr Chopra has just written a book entitled “”Rotten to the Core, Memoirs of a Health Canada whistleblower” which will be published in the Fall by KOS publishers (Toronto).  This video showing was part of a panel which addressed the question of whether one could trust government agencies and dental organizations (in fluoridated countries) when it came to fluoridation. The answers from panelists Dr. Andrew Harms, Dr. Bill Hirzy (vice-president of EPA Union in DC), Dr. Shiv Chopra and Carol Clinch was a resounding “NO.” Health Canada has largely confirmed its untrustworthiness by its continued efforts to conceal from the Canadian public the serious health effects of fluoride which were presented at the conference and in the NRC report. Health Canada’s bias in this matter is further illustrated by the presentations of Chief Dental Officer, Dr. Peter Cooney (see below).

Thanks to all of you who sent in items for the FAN FUN AUCTION. This raised over $1,200 for FAN and we had a lot of fun doing it, especially Crystal Harvey who  managed to outbid several contenders for a fluffy pink doll, which when you squeezed it in the right place went into a fit of giggles (thanks to the John Lee Foundation for this donation as well as copies of  the late Dr. John Lee’s books). Ailsa Boyden’s “historic” crocheted yellow chicken also gave us all a laugh and fetched a handsome sum. This yellow chicken was my traveling companion when I traveled around Australia. Christened as Dr. Cluck, it had to stand in for the government and dental officials who, while loudly promoting fluoridation from solo platforms, were too “chicken” do so when there was anyone around who actually knows how poor the science is that they continue too spout. I have always found this with bullies (and I do not use this word lightly when it comes to the government officials who are forcing this reckless practice on communities in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, without even the chance to vote on the matter) – when you actually challenge them to defend their position, they disappear.

Which brings us back to Health Canada and our third event. Karen Buck invited Dr. Peter Cooney (the Chief Dental Officer for Canada) and other members of Health Canada to participate in a forum downtown Toronto to address the question of whether Ontario should stop fluoridating its water. Karen had hoped that Health Canada would present the case for this practice. However, NO ONE from Health Canada was available or willing to do so. She also invited the Canadian Dental Association to send a representative but they also refused as did Toronto Public Health and the Ontario Dental Association (ODA), despite the fact that earlier the ODA had issued a press release calling on citizens and politicians to “stand up for fluoridation.” Clearly, the ODA does not believe in leading by example.

At our first forum at the US Steeelworkers Union Hall meeting on Monday August 11, we showed Dr. Peter Cooney’s videotaped presentation in Dryden, Ontario (April 1, 2008), so that we could not be accused of giving only one side of the story. I followed this with a truncated version of my presentation In Dryden on April 2. This in turn was followed by comments from Dr. Bill Osmunson, Dr. Andrew Harms, Peter Van Caulart, Cindy Mayor, Carol Clinch, Robert Flemming, Chris Neurath, Dr. Bill Hirzy and others. Unfortunately, only a few citizens from Toronto heard this which was perhaps not too surprising for a sunny Monday afternoon in August, However, we had many attending from the ISFR and FAN conferences and I am sure they will have stories to tell in their home countries about the spin from Peter Cooney and the lack of backbone of Canadian health and dental officials to defend their position in public.  Canadians tend to be very fair in such matters, and I think the crack that has opened in the Canadian fluoridation front will grow still wider when people hear about their unwillingness to participate in this forum. Certainly some in the audience felt quite insulted with their refusal to attend, especially those paid by the Canadian taxpayers to protect their health, like Health Canada and Toronto Public Health officials.

At the evening forum we heard presentations from Dr. Vyvyan Howard, Dr. Bruce Spittle, Dr. Jennifer luke and Dr. A.K. Susheela. Dr. Susheela made a very strong case for the need for the disease of fluorosis to be taught in Canadian medical and dental schools like any other disease. Western doctors are simply not trained to recognize the early symptoms of fluoride toxicity, nor the common complaints that Dr. Bruce Spittle documented which can be relieved simply by removing the source of fluoride. Apparently there is no lab or hospital in Canada set up to measure fluoride in urine or the blood to check to see if a patient’s symptoms might be related to over-exposure to fluoride. Their were a number of medical and dental students in the audience. Susheela’s presentation brought a standing ovation, which was a fitting end to this triple event.

What is interesting about the press counter-attack mounted by promoters of fluoridation (Health Canada, the CDA, the ODA and Toronto Public Health) is that ALL those cited refused to participate in our Monday afternoon debate! These include, Dr. Peter Cooney (Health Canada); Dr. Ewan Swann (CDA); Dr. Harry Levin (ODA) and Dr. Hazel Stewart (Toronto Public Health).

Thanks again to all of you who supported the conferences in any way, either by coming, or by sending donations or items fo the auction. Thanks also to all those who did such hard work to make all events successful logistically, especially Dr. Hardy Limeback, Ellen Connett, Karen Buck and Bill Clinch. Thanks also to the US Steelworkers Union who allowed us to use their splendid hall free of charge.

Look out for the videos of some of the presentations which will be posted on Google video as I edit them. Below I have printed out links to some of the media coverage triggered by this triple event.

Paul Connett

1) TV coverage. Canadian (CTV) TV coverage of Drs Vyvyan Howard (Canada AM), and Paul Connett (CTV news) accessible here (videos on right hand side when you scroll down a little).

Unfortunately, the 6 minute interview I had which was broadcast on CTVnews.net has disappeared from their website, while the response from Dr. Harry Levin remains.

2) The best press report. It was first published in the Globe and Mail, August 7 and also distributed by the Canadian Press and picked up by newspapers and TV stations across Canada: Dental experts defend fluoride in water; activists claim link to brain damage, The Canadian Press, August 08, 2008.

3) A good editorial: Editorial: Have you rinsed today? Owen Sound Sun Times, August 13, 2008.

4) A bad editorial: Editorial: Fluoride Phobia Foolish. The Chronicle Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 11, 2008. http://thechronicleherald.ca/Editorials/1072497.html

5) The promoters’ counter attack: Health Officials Bite Back On Fluoridated Water Debate. CityNews. August 7, 2008.