Fluoride Action Network

The 4th Citizen’s Conference on Fluoride

July 31, 2010 | Report on Conference from Paul Connett, FAN director

FAN Bulletin 2027: Report on FAN’s 4th Citizens’ Conference on Fluoride

If one had any doubts about whether we should have chained ourselves to this massive uphill battle of trying to end water fluoridation around the world (using education as the primary tool), this conference (sponsored by the Carol Patton Fluoride Memorial Fund) removed them.

The 50 people who attended came together from 15 US states in the US (CA, CO, FL, GA, KS, MA, MD, NY, OR, PA, TN, TX, VA, VT, and WA) two provinces in Canada (Ontario and Quebec), Australia (represented by Dominic Berry, a PhD physicist, now living in Ontario), the UK (John Graham from the National Pure Water Association) as well as the Akwesasne Nation (Henry Lickers).

Throughout the conference the attendees demonstrated a remarkable willingness to share information, energy and enthusiasm. It can be a lonely battle out there fighting in our individual communities, but from the moment this conference started on Friday evening to the moment the last person left on Wednesday morning (Jeanette Bajorek from Sacramento CA), no one felt lonely. We are all in this together.

We were thrilled that Desire Grover from Chester PA was able to broadcast the Saturday morning session live over the internet and were very excited to learn that many of you were able to tune in. You can still see this opening session at the following URLs- 1st part at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/8480605 ; 2nd part at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/8482970. We hope to post a higher quality version from a videotape made by Jack Cook.

This opening session includes:

1) Henry Lickers’s comments about the impacts of fluoride pollution on the agriculture and culture of Cornwall Island, which is part of the Akwesasne nation,

2) My opening presentation and overview of the conference objectives,

3) Dr. Bill Osmunson’s analysis on who is (or rather who isn’t) in charge of this program (many agencies and other bodies endorse and promote it, but none accept any legal responsibility for it) and,

4) further legal thoughts on this from James Robert Deal, a lawyer from Washington state.

We didn’t broadcast the rest of the conference because it consisted largely of people sharing their experiences and suggestions about future tactics and strategies for ending this foolish practice. We felt that broadcasting this would inhibit many people from speaking candidly about what had worked and what hadn’t.

There were many highlights:

•  Kevin Hurley from Burlington VT showed 9 minutes from the 90 minute documentary on fluoridation he has been working on for over a year. Kevin was the cameraman for most FAN’s “Professional Perspectives on Water Fluoridation” and the four vignettes that preceded it. Kevin hopes to complete his documentary by October (we’ll keep you posted as to it’s premiere showing).

•  Nancy Krook traveled up from Ithaca to receive FAN’s 2010 Albert Burgstahler Scientific Integrity Award, awarded posthumously to her late husband Dr. Lennart Krook. Previous winners of this award: Albert Burgstahler (2006); Bill Hirzy and Bob Carton (2007); Kathleen Thiessen, Hardy Limeback and Bob Isaacson (2008); Bruce Spittle, Jennifer Luke, Andrew Harms and Bill Osmunson (2009).

•  Cathy Justus had many people in tears as she spoke about the sickness and death of some of her beloved horses caused by fluoride. Confirming diagnosis of the cause of their ailments was the last scientific work that Lennart Krook conducted before he passed away earlier this year.

• Both Gilles Parent and Jimmy Siles gave the audience renewed hope for the future when they spoke about the several victories in Quebec, including getting it out of Quebec City (population over 491,000) and preventing it going into Gatineau (population over 242,000). This information especially heartened the four people who had traveled down from Ottawa, Ontario, which is located next door to Gatineau.

•  Paul Finney described the successful effort to keep fluoride out of Humboldt, Kansas and Deb Moore, likewise for Worcester, Mass.

•  Others gave us some insights on how the battle was lost in St. Petersberg, Florida (Kurt and Marcy Irmischer); San Antonio, Texas (Kay Turner and Nikki Kuhns); Burlington, Vermont (Alan Soussie and Kevin Hurley) and the ongoing efforts to get it out of Austin, Texas (Linda Greene and Rae Nadler-Oelnick). Austin and San Antonio are only 80 miles apart and this quartet is going to make the sparks fly In Texas.

•  Another highlight was hearing from a panel from Ontario, that included some of the best fluoridation fighters in North America (Diane Sprules, Aliss Terpstra, Robert Fleming, Gerry Cooper and Peter Van Caulart).

•  Mike Ewall excited everyone with a discussion of the superb organizing that continues to keep mandatory fluoridation out of Pennsylvania (likewise Bill Osmunson for Oregon). Mike (entering his third year at law school) combines the best technical skills with the time-honored technique of building coalitions from many disparate parties impacted by fluoridation.

•  Throughout the conference two people were capturing interviews of participants on video: Jack Cook from Tennessee (aided by his lovely wife Kate Chadwick) and Guy Wagner from Oregon. Out of this we hope to get a sister tape to the Professional Perspectives video: “Citizens’ Perspectives on Water fluoridation.” If nothing else such a tape will dispel the PR-contrived myth that the only people opposed to fluoridation are crazy people who think it is a “communist conspiracy.”

•  Mike Dolan from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, talked briefly about the archives the library is building up documenting the anti-fluoridation movement. To date this consists of papers, letters, reports, court transcripts etc. from the late John Yiamouyiannis, Ionel Rapoport, Martha Bevis, and several others. This promises to be an important resource for all of us.

•  Kate Chadwick of Tennessee gave us some useful tips about approaching the media.

•  Bernie Miltenberger shared with us what he had seen in a visit to a local water department where the fluoridating agent was being added to the water supply.

•  The formal part of the proceedings ended with a plea from Albert Burgstahler to help get the journal Fluoride listed on PubMed. Sadly this blatant censorship has kept many doctors and scientists away from the key literature on fluoride’s health effects, often with embarrassing consequences. Mike Dolan volunteered to head up a committee to end this injustice.

•  Sona Dolan provided an unexpected highlight to the conference by providing Tai Chi lessons to help participants focus their energy. Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese mind-body exercise that might serve participants well before their next crucial council meeting!

Further adding to the notion of the wide-ranging solidarity in this battle were videotaped messages that we were able to show from fluoridation fighters in the UK (Stephen Peckham from Hampshire Against Fluoridation) and FAN New Zealand (Mary Byrne and Mark Atkins). Unfortunately technical difficulties prevented us showing video messages from Queensland (Merilyn Haines) and Victoria, Australia (David McRae and Keith Oakley).  In the conference package we also were also able to include messages from Kathy Ling (a councilor from Mount Pleasant MI) and Philip Robertson, a naturopath from Geelong, Australia. Philip is compiling a list of all the symptoms that people are experiencing in Geelong after the introduction of fluoridation there in 2009. These symptoms clear up when the person avoids the water or visits a non-fluoridated community.

For me the most exciting thing about the proceedings was that nearly everyone spoke; most from the podium and the rest from the floor.  So often our activists come to our conferences to listen to experts. At this conference the activists were the experts.

Looking to the future we discussed plans to hold the next FAN conference next year in the DC area (Cynthia Erville, Bermie Miltenberger, Mike Ewall, and Ken Case have volunteered to do some footwork on this), and perhaps a conference in the Atlanta area, under the nose of the CDC. Such a thought was partially inspired by the incredible behind-the-scenes work that Dan Stockin has been doing in the Atlanta area

I am especially grateful to everyone who went to such great efforts to get to this event. Jack Cook and Kate Chadwick drove all the way from Nashville, Tennessee; Ken Case drove up from Virginia; Cynthia Erville from Silver Spring, Maryland; Bill Patenaude from Methuen, Mass. (which voted against fluoridation THREE times), Mass; Deb Moore from Worcester; several from the Toronto area; Jimmy Siles from Quebec City and Dominic Berry who took a bus all the way from Waterloo, Ontario (via Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, where he was finally rescued from Trailways by Bernie Miltenberger on his way up from Maryland); as well as Cathy Reynolds from Stockbridge, Vermont; Karl and Trisha Novak from Hinesburg, Vermont; and Jesse Moses from Newton, Mass.; and more…

St. Lawrence University did us proud with splendid facilities and technical support (Thanks David Geleta, McCayla Quinn and everyone in food service) and last but not least, Ellen, who put this all together.

The FAN FUN auction was hilarious and productive (we have discovered a new auctioneer in Richard Hudon from Ottawa) and the boat trip around the Thousand Islands and the swim afterwards was a wonderful relaxing end to a most memorable event. Thanks to everyone, including those who supported us from cyberspace and those who supported the event financially. This of course includes the late Carol Patton whose bequest to FAN made possible the attendance of some of the participants.

A few messages (for buttons or posters) that emerged from the conference:

1) Fluoridation = Truth Decay.

2) From Crystal Harvey’s daughter, “Thank you for caring about my teeth, what about the rest of my body?”

3) From the back of Crystal Harvey’s car: “Water is for everyone. Fluoridation isn’t.”

4) Dentists: you can look after my teeth, but leave the rest of my body alone.

5) Dentists are going beyond their professional expertise when they say that fluoridation is safe.

6) The people that fluoridate our water are practicing medicine without a license.

7) In response to the slogan used by promoters in Worcester MA, Burlington VT and Arkansas, “Got Teeth, Get Fluoride”, Aliss Terpstra offered “Got Brains, Avoid Fluoride”

8) From Ellen, “Fluoridation: I do NOT give my consent.”

9) From Paul, “When public policy is controlled by spin, a single fact is a subversive action.”

Paul Connett