Fluoride Action Network

Moving from the Politics of “No” to the Politics of “Yes”

Fluoride Action Network | December 5, 2015

A quick update on our fundraiser before we move to the “Politics of Yes and No.”  Yesterday we received $685 from 9 supporters. This was doubled via a generous pledge. So our grand total after four days of our fundraiser stands at $12,676 from 63 supporters.

We are still a very long way from our ambitious target of $200,000 by midnight Dec 31, but our supporters always surprise us both with their generosity and their creativity. Speaking of which can you suggest ways we might make this exercise more fun and more exciting? What supporting articles would you like to see? What premiums would you like us to offer?

Every donation counts, especially the total number of donors. In the new year we plan to contact small foundations for their financial support.  We can point to the number of supporters on Facebook (over 70,000) and an equally impressive email list, but we have been told that it’s the number of supporters that put their money where their hearts are that impress these foundations.  Fortunetely, FAN has more individual donors than many large non-profits who are financed with millions of dollars by very large foundations.  We simply coundn’t do this work without your support.

To make a tax-deductible donation you can either:

·Donate online using our secure server.

·Or by check – please make checks payable to Fluoride Action Network and send to: FAN, c/o Connett, 104 Walnut Street, Binghamton NY 13905

Moving from the Politics of “No” to the Politics of “Yes”

If science held the magic bullet for ending the practice of water fluoridation it would have ended years ago – in fact, it would never have been started.

There are many reasons why the science of fluoridation’s ineffectiveness and dangers are being ignored or denied:

1)   Certain special interests benefit from the practice continuing (especially the sugar lobby).

2)   The mainstream media (except Newsweek) is not doing its job of reporting on the ineffectiveness and risks of fluoridation.

3)   The bureaucrats in health agencies  are trained to promote policy not question it. As I said in my presentation before the Denver Water Commission, “When policy is king, science becomes a slave”.

4)   Dental and medical professionals were only taught one side of this story and most are not prepared to do a U-turn and give up when they have been taught to believe.

In this bulletin I would like to try to understand and ultimately recruit dental and health professionals for a larger battle for good.

I think that most dentists and doctors who promote fluoridation believe that they are promoting a good and essential policy. They believe that they are helping fight tooth decay especially among children from families of low income. They believe that the best science supports their claims that the practice is both safe and effective and that those who say otherwise are cranks who rely on junk science.

Many of us will doggedly continue to challenge these “beliefs” by citing the science that says otherwise. But it is very difficult to change a belief system. After 20 years of trying to do so using every ounce of my scientific training I can assure readers that it is both exhausting and soul-destroying. This is what I call the politics of “no.”

A different approach is the politics of “yes.” This would say to the dental and public health communities,

You are correct when you assert that tooth decay is concentrated in families of low income. You are correct when you say these children need our help. We want to find ways to help you achieve these noble goals.  But not only do we want to find better ways to fight tooth decay in low-income families, we want to do more. We want to find better ways to fight tooth decay but also to find ways to provide a better diet, better health, better living conditions and better economic prospects for families of low-income. We would like to see all this put into the context of community development and community empowerment. Will you help us achieve these goals together?

We made a start on such a positive plan in FAN’s September 25, 2015 submission to the Intergovernmental Agency on Environmental Justice (IGA EJ) (see section22, reproduced below).  I have been accused by some of my friends that I am being too ambitious. My response is that you should always aim for the best, even if you don’t achieve all you want. Moreover, when people come together it is amazing what you can achieve.

So I would like to reach out to both our colleagues and opponents alike.  Can we shoot for a better way together? I believe that this approach will not only be better for those we are trying to help but also better for ourselves. Let’s say “yes” together and save our battles for “no” for other things like war.

Paul Connett, PhD
Senior Advisor
Fluoride Action Network

Our 5-step Alternative to Water Fluoridation
for Low-Income Areas and the Inner City

1)  End water fluoridation. This could be accomplished swiftly by the U.S. EPA Office of Water (OW). If the OW were to determine the safe dose of fluoride that would protect all our children from lowered IQ it would force an immediate end to fluoridation. Such protection against fluoride’s neurotoxic effects would improve the “health, quality-of-life, and economic opportunities” for children and young people in many ways, especially from low-income families.

2)  Establish the equivalent of Scotland’s very successful Childsmile program in all pre-school, kindergarten and primary schools (and possibly WIC programs) in low-income areas. In this program involving both teachers and parents, children are taught to brush their teeth properly; are provided more nutritious snacks and beverages and encouraged to reduce sugar consumption. The program also provides annual dental check-ups and treatment if required. A similar program from Denmark is the Nexø Program, which teaches parents of infants and their children good oral hygiene, with regular visits up through age 18.  The Nexø Program has produced dramatic reductions in caries to some of the lowest income levels in the developed world. (see pages 129-132)

3)  Set up dental clinics either in schools or stand-alone facilities in the inner city and other low-income areas. Recruit dentists, dental hygienists and nutritionists to provide part-time pro bono services to these clinics and support the educational services in step 2.

4)  Expand these dental clinics into community centers aimed at improving the child’s overall health, nutrition and physical fitness as well as stimulating other health supporting activities. Such a center, depending on local interest and skills could include keep-fit equipment and classes, community gardens, community composting, cooking, nutritional and canning advice. Depending upon demand It might also be linked to local farms..

5)  Eventually expand these community centers into job creating operations. As one example we know that can work: include a “reuse and repair” operation to handle discarded appliances, furniture and other reuseable items from the local and nearby communities. Reuse and repair can also involve job training, skill-sharing, tool sharing, a community work bench and value added enterprises. Such an operation can be linked to a Zero Waste strategy involving source separation, composting, recycling and other waste reduction and prevention initiatives. This strategy not only fights the pollution generated by landfills and incinerators (which are often sited in low-income areas), it also provides many jobs and local business opportunities. One of the authors of this report has lectured and written extensively in this area, see The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time by Paul Connett (Chelsea Green, 2013).

It is not difficult to see how many federal and local agencies could be involved with such an ambitious scheme. These could include the HHS as well as the departments of Education and Agriculture and the waste management folks at the EPA.  Step 5 could be integrated with the ongoing efforts along these lines in many municipalities. This is one of many ideas that with a little creativity a community can embrace.

PS- If any one is interested in the book mentioned in step 5 (The Zero Waste Solution: Untrashing the Planet One Community at a Time by Paul Connett (Chelsea Green, 2013) you can get a signed copy as a thank you gift for a donation of $101.00.

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