Plans to add fluoride to water in order to improve dental health are dangerous and immoral, the Green party has warned.
The group claims there are negative health effects from water fluoridation as well as medical ethical issues.
Its comments come in response to the announcement from health secretary Alan Johnson that strategic health authorities (SHAs) should consider fluoridating water.
Government funding of £14 million per year over the next three years has been set aside to help SHAs with this process.
“Fluoridating water is essentially medicating people without their permission, and the European Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine distinctly states that individuals have the right not to be medicated without their consent,” said Green party health spokesperson Stuart Jeffery said.
“Poor dental health is a complex public health issue. The root causes are poor diet and inadequate dental hygiene. Typically the government seems more concerned with dangerous knee-jerk action and to be seen ‘doing something’, rather than confronting the real causes of the problem.”
He added that there is “no good evidence” that systemic fluoride helps prevent tooth decay, claiming long-term fluoride consumption is linked to a range of medical problems including tooth-discolouration and skeletal problems.
“Most European countries have managed to reduce levels of tooth decay in recent years, in almost all cases without fluoridation,” Mr Jeffery commented.
“The Green party wants to see a programme of education for children and adults regarding proper dental hygiene and a healthy diet, a health warning on all sources of fluoride intended for human consumption, and a ban on the fluoridation of drinking water.”