Green MEP for the South East Caroline Lucas has challenged the Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham over his position as vice president of the British Fluoridation Society – at a time when health authorities in Southampton were giving the green light to a “mass medication” water fluoridation scheme.
The Health Secretary was instrumental in proposing the inclusion of compulsory water fluoridation in the Government’s 2003 Water Act. He resigned from this position in recent weeks, but Dr Lucas MEP today joined with UK Councils Against Fluoridation (UKCAF) to question why Mr Burnham’s links with the Society were not included in his register of interests, despite strict Parliament regulations stating such interests must be declared.
Dr Lucas MEP said: “It is of great concern that the Health Secretary was able to closely align himself with a body whose sole business it is to promote water fluoridation, at the same time that he was due to make key decisions about the future of the UK’s water supply. Parliament’s regulations on MPs’ interests are supposed to prevent alliances which can fundamentally inform policy – but clearly they are not fit for purpose.”
Earlier this year, the Green MEP warned that the region’s health authorities were setting a “reckless precedent” for future fluoridation schemes in the South East with their decision to press ahead with fluoridation plans in Southampton.
Although 72% of people in Southampton voted against fluoridation in a poll conducted by the Strategic Health Authority, the SHA is pressing ahead with the scheme. A legal case regarding the highly criticised consultation process has been announced and legal aid has been obtained by the person bringing the case against South Central SHA.
Dr Lucas MEP commented: “The ill-advised decision to implement water fluoridation in Southampton demonstrates contempt for the views of many local people – and for the evidence against fluoridation itself.
“Water fluoridation has simply not been proven to be effective for teeth, and some studies have indicated links between fluoridation and serious ill health effects, including thyroid problems, skeletal fluorosis, bone cancers and mental problems.
“The scheme in Southampton amounts to a mass medication of the population. I have made a formal complaint to the European Commission regarding the failure of the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to properly classify hexafluorosilic acid, used in fluoridation of drinking water under the UK Water Act 2003, as a medicinal product. The correct classification would likely mean the UK’s water fluoridation schemes would contravene EU law.
“In place of mass fluoridation, the UK Government could be improving the health of our teeth through targeted schemes such as providing free toothpaste for poor families. This decision in Southampton sets a reckless precedent for future fluoridation plans in the South East, and we must be vigilant of further attempts to affect our water in this way.”