The outcome did not reflect the dramatic events in Thames Coromandel District Council Chambers this week when two hours of volatile deliberations finally came to a head with Mayor Glenn Leach using his casting vote to break a 4/4 deadlock. This allowed a motion aimed at retaining the status quo on water fluoridation to go through. However, had it not been for the absence (due to an OS mercy dash) of a councillor known to favour choice in what medicine is dropped into her drink, the result would have been different.
The issue comes up again for review as part of the district wide Ten Year Plan in 2015. Fluoride Free Thames spokesperson, Dr Jane Beck says, “We are heartened by the events of this week, and confident that the 2015 review will see the end of fluoridation in Thames (if not before as a result of a judicial review in Taranaki).
“This decision was a political one to uphold the Thames Community Board recommendation from January – despite recent growing awareness that there is a lack of evidence to support the safety of adding fluoride to the municipal water supply, which is a form of mass medication.
“Before a pharmaceutical company can introduce a new drug to the market the onus is on the company to prove the product is safe. That is why vast amounts are spent on research studies. In my researching I have found no scientific research that demonstrates the safety of water fluoridation. The absence of scientific research demonstrating safety (or risk) is not evidence of safety. I found evidence of the negligible benefit of water fluoridation in reducing tooth decay. I also found evidence of broader health risks associated with water fluoridation and presented this to Council at the recent Hearings in April .
“As the provider of water fluoridation the Council has the burden of proof to show all the residents of Thames that water fluoridation is safe. It was obvious from the tone of deliberations this week that the majority of Councillors now recognise this fact – and it would seem that the Ministry of Health may face strong questioning from our Mayor as a result”. In January, after a survey conducted during the holiday period showing 52.5% of submitters wanted Thames water fluoridation to stop, Thames Community Board recommended continuation – but with a further recommendation that Council provide support for those wishing to opt out.
Then of the total number of submissions received to the TCDC Draft Annual Plan in April, 87% were about fluoridation. Of these 867 submissions, 861 demanded discontinuation – with six supporting the status quo.
Dr Beck concludes, “This week’s close decision is a forerunner for a more substantial review of water fluoridation. There is a four day tribunal in Hamilton starting 28th May, with over 1,500 submissions, of which 89% want fluoridation stopped. This combined with the lack of scientific evidence to prove its safety, is likely to see Hamilton Councillors vote to cease water fluoridation in Hamilton”.