After nearly three years of delay by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – and only due to numerous legal victories by our attorneys to move the case forward – the moment we’ve been waiting for has arrived.
Mark your calendars, the start date for the final phase of our federal lawsuit against the EPA over the neurotoxicity of fluoridation chemicals has been scheduled for January 29th, 2024. The Court has set aside two weeks to hear testimony and cross-examination of expert witnesses focused on new evidence and science published since the last trial dates in 2020, including the NTP’s 6-year systematic review of fluoride’s neurotoxicity.
The start date was agreed upon by both parties, and was the earliest practical date based on the calendars for the Court and attorneys, as well as the procedural guidelines and timetables laid out by the Court at the start of the trial. This schedule also ensures that our expert witnesses will have ample time to review and assess the evidence.
Attorneys for the EPA agreed to proceed without the published NTP report, acknowledging that while the NTP does appear to be making progress they may never officially publish their findings that low-levels of fluoride cause cognitive impairment during brain development in children. The judge also stated that he’s willing to move forward without the published NTP report.
The NTP has announced that their Board of Scientific Councilors (BSC) will hold a public meeting on May 4th. The BSC is charged with evaluating “the adequacy of NTP responses to external peer review and federal agency comments received.” A BSC working group will present their findings to the full council, then hear an hour of public testimony from stakeholder organizations. The BSC will then decide if the NTP report needs to be amended at all, which amendments to make, and make a final recommendation to the NTP Director, Rick Woychik, Ph.D. This all comes after the report went through an unprecedented multi-tiered peer review process that no other monograph in history has undergone, including being reviewed twice by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), reviewed by a select group of external subject matter experts, and reviewed by various pro-fluoridation agencies within HHS.
Once Dr. Woychik has the BSC recommendation in hand, he will then presumably decide if the report will ever be made public, though evidence obtained by FAN through the Freedom of Information Act indicates that the decision will likely be political rather than science-based, and made instead by Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine.
FAN’s lead attorney, Michael Connett, asked the Court to allow additional depositions of the government officials involved in blocking the NTP report from the public. However the judge chose to keep depositions limited for the time being, saying that he wanted to focus on the science rather than the politics. From our perspective, the judge appeared to be indicating that he would give the weight to the NTP report that it deserved, and not be swayed at all by political-based criticisms of the NTPs work or behind-the-scenes maneuvering to keep the report from being published.
At the end of the day, our two major goals of getting the judge to hold a second phase of the trial and getting a concrete date scheduled for its start were both achieved. The finish line appears to be in sight!
The Court will hold its next status hearing at 2:30PM (Pacific) / 5:30PM (Eastern) on Tuesday, July 11th.
We also recommend reading independent journalist Derrick Bronze’s great coverage of the status hearing.