FLUORIDATED water might keep the teeth of cows healthy, but it could be milking them of their intelligence.
These observations were offered during an animated discussion in State Parliament about the arguable benefits of introducing fluoride to the water supplies of regional cities.
The Democratic Labor Party’s Peter Kavanagh — who maintains that fluoride lowers the IQ (of humans, at least) — has introduced laws which, if passed, would require a vote of the local populace before fluoride could be added to the water supply.
He has the support of Liberal MP John Vogels, who recently regaled parliament with the story of his herd’s dental hygiene while questioning the value of fluoride.
“My cows have beautiful teeth because they are drinking fluoridated water, but I think it’s a waste of fluoride, and so have the pigs,” the western Victorian MP said, without divulging his stock’s water source.
“We have other alternatives these days. If you are concerned about tooth decay, as you should be … you buy toothpaste with fluoride in it. You get fluoride pills.”
Labor’s Martin Pakula interjected: “I feel like I am in Alabama.”
The State Government has announced plans to add fluoride to the Geelong water supply and to drinking water in areas of western Victoria.
Mr Kavanagh, no stranger to voicing concerns about fluoride, told parliament “there is considerable evidence of a decrease in IQ in fluoridated areas, and among other things a sharp increase in osteosarcoma among young males in areas that have been fluoridated”.
“There is good evidence that fluoride is harmful to people’s health, and that it is of minimal help in avoiding and preventing tooth decay.”
He believes “local people should decide local issues” and has won the backing of the Liberal Party, National Party and the Greens in Victoria’s upper house for his controversial new law to put any plans to fluoridate water to a referendum.
The National Party’s Peter Hall said his party supported the introduction of a fluoridation referendum. The Greens’ Colleen Hartland said local communities should have a say on whether or not they drank fluoride.
But Labor MPs were scathing of the proposed fluoride referendum law, with western Victoria region’s Gayle Tierney noting that 77 % of Victorians now lived in fluoridated areas.
“Six-year-old children living in fluoridated areas in Victoria have up to 36% less tooth decay than those living in non-fluoridated areas,” she said.
The bill was passed in the upper house 21 votes to 19, but is unlikely to pass the lower house where Labor has the numbers.
Stop the rot
? About 43,000 Australians are hospitalised annually with serious dental decay and about a quarter of the population has some form of decay — the second-worst teeth among developed nations.
? A recent report found that 95% of people born after 1970 have experienced tooth decay with an average 4.5 teeth affected — but those in the pre-fluoride generation had decay in 24 teeth.