The emotive issue of the compulsory fluoridation of water has surfaced again and it is guaranteed to raise a few hackles. I know from the reaction when I’ve raised the issue in the past that many of you have very strong views indeed about it.
It has been rumoured for a long time that the Government wants to allow fluoride to be added to all drinking water in England and Wales, despite the controversy surrounding the subject.
Opponents of fluoridation claim it may be linked to increased risks of cancers, hip fractures, kidney trouble and even birth defects. Those in favour of it claim it is proven to reduce tooth decay and they deny there is any clear evidence of a link between fluoridation and cancer.
At the moment, leaving natural fluoridation aside, only about 11 per cent of the population receive water to which fluoride has been added and I have no doubt that the remaining 89 per cent will have more than a few words to say on the subject.
If you walk into any chemist shop, you will see shelves stacked with fluoride toothpaste. So for any parents who see benefits for their own and their children’s teeth in using fluoride, the answer is straightforward: buy fluoride toothpaste.
Last year the Medical Research Council reported that more information about potential benefits and potential health risks was needed so the public could make informed decisions.
Surely that’s right. It may be that, with more information, an overwhelming majority of the public would be in favour of compulsory fluoridation but, in any event, we would see an informed public making a decision.
Coinciding with last year’s Research Council report came a rather arrogant-sounding letter from a health minister and an environment minister that said: “Those who remain adamantly opposed to fluoridation would be able to use water filters that remove fluoride or buy bottled drinking water.” Why should they have to buy either? Why should they have mass fluoridation forced upon them?
Incidentally, in a move to ensure that you, the long-suffering British public, ends up paying the bill whatever happens, the Government has come up with a very ingenious suggestion. It proposes that water companies should be indemnified against the cost of any liabilities arising from fluoridation. Think about it for a moment because, as such ideas go, it’s really cute.
Should any one of the disasters forecast by the anti-fluoridation campaigners actually happen to you and you sue, you’re bound to lose.
Even if you win you lose, since the water companies would be indemnified against the cost of any liabilities. And who would be paying for that indemnity via their taxes? No prizes for guessing the answer.
Well done, Tony, well up to smoke and mirror standards.
However, Prime Minister, since you’ve proved yourself on the international stage perhaps it’s now time to show leadership at home. If you permit compulsory mass fluoridation of our water, which many will portray as the forced mass medication of our population, you risk looking like a nannying Prime Minister heading a nannying Government; or, even worse, the presidential dictator that many of your critics claim you are set on becoming.
It may be that you favour compulsory fluoridation, in which case this would be a good time to publicly say so, but if you don’t, why not give the more than 147 Labour MPs who want to nanny us a good slap and tell them to leave our water alone?
(You can send Jimmy an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org)