Over the last week we have received many e-mails and phone-calls from parents all over the world, particularly European countries, with questions about the news reports of the fluoride supplements ban in Belgium.
Many of you could not believe that there is now finally a “developed country” with such a ban on fluoride supplements – something which of course should have happened long ago, and should be followed by all countries as soon as possible. However, there seems to be much confusion about the ban, the items included, and what was actually said.
The news of the ban was reported by HUMO, a weekly newsmagazine in Belgium which published an interview with Magda Aelvoet, the Minister of Public Health.
RESPONSE IN BELGIUM
The ban has created incredible response in Belgium. The item has been in the news daily.
Response by the dental profession has been loaded with animosity aimed at the Public Health Minister, as well as HUMO. One of Belgium’s dental professors even compared the Health Minister to Milosevic!
The first letters by the dentists, together with a response by the authors, will be published Tuesday, August 6, in HUMO. Next week will bring more letters by dentists, this time with Vishal’s official PFPC response to HUMO.
Meanwhile, in the US, a spokesperson of the American Dental Association on fluoridation matters, Dr. Michael Easley, distributed outright false information to the scientific commmunity and to public health dentists worldwide, claiming the HUMO news to be “inaccurate” and “grossly misleading” (1). He proceeded to distribute an e-mail from an Australian Public Health dentist which in turn pointed to a site by a Belgian dental association which had posted – apparently as “official statement” – false information and accredited this statement to the Public Health Ministry. As it turns out, the Ministry spokesperson, Tom Ruts, cannot recall that the Ministry EVER made this statement, and will investigate.
IS IT TRUE THAT HEALTH MINISTER AELVOET SAYS FLUORIDE PREVENTS TOOTH DECAY?
The Guardian (UK) reported that Aelvoet “conceded it (fluoride) was effective at preventing tooth decay” (2).
FACT: No such concession was ever made by the Health Minister, who actually is – and has been – on vacation. This has further been confirmed by the Ministry. As one can clearly see from the original HUMO article – which is now translated and posted on our website, along with the original scans – the exact opposite was stated by the Minister. LINK: http://184.108.40.206/pfpc/html/humo.html
(We have included the interview portion below for those of you without Internet access.)
IS IT TRUE THAT TOOTHPASTE IS EXCLUDED BECAUSE IT PREVENTS TOOTH DECAY?
The BBC quoted Ministry spokesman Ruts as stating that toothpaste was excluded from the ban because “it protects against tooth decay” (3). The same reports were made by the New Zealand Herald and many other international papers serviced by the Reuters News Agency (4).
FACT: NO such statements were ever made by Mr. Ruts, as was confirmed by the Ministry. The REAL reason why toothpaste was not included in the ban is because toothpaste is regulated under the cosmetics act by the EU – not food laws, as are the fluoride supplements. This is also clearly stated in the interview.
The fluoride supplement ban includes fluoride tablets, fluoride drops, and fluoride chewing gum. This prohibition is “only the first step”, as was repeatedly stated by Mr. Ruts to the media. Many other actions are expected in the Ministry’s efforts to curb fluoride intake.
While the Guardian stated correctly that a European commissioner believed that such a ban might run contrary to EU laws, Minister Aelvoet issued a reply from her vacation spot on Thursday, stating that the ban WILL remain, and that the European commission has to accept that, and will have to change the rules. It was carried by the Belgian national news, but not reported in the Guardian.
IS IT TRUE THAT THIS BAN HAS ONLY BEEN PROPOSED AND IS NOT YET LAW?
FACT: The ban is not just ‘proposed’ or being ‘considered’, as stated by the BBC, but is in fact law. It is by royal decree (has been signed by the King), and becomes valid as soon as the decision is published in the “Staatsblad” (somewhat comparable to the US Federal Register).
IS IT TRUE THAT THE BELGIAN MINISTER DID NOT CONSULT IN THIS MATTER AND ACTED SINGLE-HANDEDLY?
FACT: It is not the Minister who just came up with this “idea”, but this action was advised by the Belgian High Committee of Health, as stated in the Interview.
It has been a very turbulent week. It has been most disturbing to witness the relentless attacks on the Belgian Health Ministry by dental professionals. International newspapers inserted statements which were never made by the spokespeople.
One is reminded of the same time last year (August 2001) when Rajasthan’s Health & Family Welfare Minister Mr. Rajendra Choudhary published his book on fluoride poisoning, warning the people to stay away from fluoridated toothpaste, pan masala, and black tea. This event went virtually unreported anywhere else. In Rajasthan over 30,000 villages are now affected by fluoride poisoning. 8 million are suffering from crippling fluorosis.
We are extremely happy and grateful that finally a Public Health Ministry in a developed country has taken up the challenge to question fluoride benefits and seems firmly committed to address its toxicity. We thank Chris Vermeire and Peter Cremers in Belgium for their incredible efforts over the last few years.
Best wishes to all,
Head, Parents of Fluoride Poisoned Children (PFPC)
Vancouver, BC, Canada