Fluoride Action Network (FANNZ) endorses the NZ Medical Association’s call for a national debate on fluoridation. FANNZ has been calling for an open transparent public scientific discussion on fluoridation for some time. “But every time we invite promoters to participate, they refuse. The public has a right to more respect” says Mark Atkin, FANNZ’ Scientific and Legal Advisor. Such a national level discussion is also current Labour Party policy.
“And we have the perfect opportunity to kick this off in February 2014, when international expert Dr Paul Connett will again be in NZ. We have invited the Medical Association and other fluoridation supporters including the Chief Science Advisor and the Ministry of Health to engage in a public scientific forum discussion with Dr Connett”, advises Mr Atkin.
The two most comprehensive up-to-date NZ reviews of fluoridation have resulted in fluoridation being stopped. This has been through a Tribunal process recommended by the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Chief Science Advisor, first in New Plymouth and then in Hamilton. Both Councils noted the difficulty in assessing diametrically opposed claims, each quoting scientific research in support.
The Tribunal process does not allow those with the necessary expert knowledge to challenge claims by the other side with scientific research. Enabling this is a strength of the forum process, avoiding the ‘we say, they say’ dilemma currently faced by Councils and the public alike.
But a national debate does not mean a centrally made decision. It means that the public at large need to be part of the solution. No centrally made decision will put this controversy to rest. Neither side will accept a decision by a third party that conflicts with their own position. This debate will never go away unless the public at large understands the facts and sees these reflected in fluoridation decisions.
Anything we can do to improve public knowledge about the strength of the science for and against fluoridation, we should do. Holding those who make statements about fluoridation to account for their claims in a public forum is an essential step.