To the editor:
No matter what you believe about the effectiveness or safety of adding fluoride to the public tap water, there is one thing that is indisputable — subjecting people to a substance that is intended to prevent a disease, without their individual informed consent, is a clear violation of medical ethics and of the UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, which Canada has endorsed.
Article 6-1 of this agreement states: “Any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned, based on adequate information. The consent should, where appropriate, be express and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason without disadvantage or prejudice.”
Certainly there is evidence of harm from fluoridation in the form of dental fluorosis. There is evidence of other potential harms, coming from animal studies and recent human studies. There are questions about effectiveness, from data that shows people in fluoridated countries have no fewer cavities than those living in countries that don’t fluoridate. Those questions are being debated, but the argument is unnecessary because the practice is unethical.
People who wish to have added fluoride can easily get it by putting a known amount into their food or beverages. Those opposed shouldn’t have to take measures and expense to avoid it. We aren’t obliged to provide any evidence of anything to anyone. We also don’t have to apologize to those who want fluoride and think that their convenience trumps our right to avoid this medical intervention.
The UNESCO Declaration means all we should need to say is: “I do not consent” and fluoridation would be ended.
It’s too bad many doctors and medical organizations ignore their own ethical guidelines, and Health Canada endorses this clearly unethical practice.