Last week I was saying that Dr Tom Moffat, Minister of State for Food Safety and Older People, went before the Senate on February 13 last to respond to a question posed by Avril Doyle. Senator Doyle wanted to know how come the Scientific Committee of The Food Safety Authority had not responded to questions regarding the safety of using fluoridated tap water to reconstitute baby’s formula.
Given that this question had been raised some eight months prior to this February meeting and given the very serious potential fallout if the results of their research should indicate that using fluoridated tap water in baby’s bottles was dangerous, then I think that Ms Doyle’s question was indeed timely and altogether appropriate. Dr Moffat responded as follows; “I am informed by the authority that the primary reason for the delay in the publication of the report on the risk assessment of the potential hazards of using fluoridated water for reconstituting infant formula is that the issues are complex and still under
discussion.” So, in effect, last February 13, Dr Moffat is telling the Senate that the report is not ready yet and that discussions are on-going.
Now we know that this was not the case. After the February 13 meeting, the Authority posted the minutes of their eight meeting held on October 3 last, on its website. At this meeting, held over four months before Dr Moffat said to the Senate that discussions were ongoing, the Authority had in fact made an important pronouncement on the safety of using fluoridated tap water in infant’s feeds and it was this: “The assessment indicates that infants below the age of four months are exposed to doses of fluoride that exceed the recognised ‘no observable effect’ level.”
Or simply put another way, the Scientific Sub-Committee of The Food Safety Authority of Ireland said last October that babies in this country were receiving doses of fluoride that would have observable effects on them, the most prominent observable effect being, of course, dental fluorosis. Now, either Dr Moffat was (a) unaware of this which is very unlikely, or (b) decided for his own reasons not to tell the Government of these preliminary though extremely important findings. Whatever the reasons were, the outcome was that information was withheld and people were misled.
Because I can tell you one thing for certain. Had Dr Moffat told Avril Doyle at the February 13 meeting of the Senate that babies in this country were receiving such massive doses of fluoride that it was having an observable effect on them, then the matter could not have and would not have rested there. This is serious serious stuff, the final outcome of which may yet make the Hepatitis C scandal look prosaic in comparison.
This whole Forum on Fluoridation has been an absolute disgrace from start to finish. Clearly the vast majority of the members of this talk-shop want fluoridation to continue and are prepared to go to whatever lengths needed to ensure that the practice is not discontinued. Anytime an awkward question is asked of this Forum it simply refuses to answer it or worse still, makes promises that it never fulfils.
The Forum’s report was supposed to be published last August. Then it was to be in September, then October, then surely by last Christmas and what do you think, that’s right, still no sign of it, just leaked versions telling us that the status quo is to be maintained – surprise surprise!
Then there were Prof Paul Connett’s 50 questions to the Forum which it promised to answer at the end of last summer; it did no such thing. Then it was to be in the autumn, then winter and now they tell us that they have given up on them and that not one of the Professor’s questions is going to be answered, not a single one.
With regards to infant formula and the safety or otherwise of using fluoridated tap water to reconstitute it, again a separate sub-committee was put in place to address and report on this issue. Again we were given a whole string of false promises on this one and now are told that the issue raises complex questions and the Scientific Sub-committee is still working on it – though at the same time, according to their own web-site, babies in Ireland are being exposed to levels of fluoride such that the effects are clinically detectable.
The Forum is made up largely of professors and academics of various sorts. These powerful people set and mark examinations for undergraduate students. They are the gatekeepers to the professions. They decide who is and is not allowed to graduate. Certain high standards are demanded and ex-
pected. If 50 questions were put to a student in a final examination and the student failed to answer even one of them on the grounds that they were too complex, then that student would be failed. And yet these self-same professors and academics can sit on a Forum paid for out of tax-payers money and not answer one single question nor deliver any report on time, and generally behave in a manner in which they would fail others.