I was honored a couple of weeks ago to be invited by the US EPA to participate in a one on one debate on fluoridation to be held in Washington DC on May 6. However, those responsible for finding an opponent are experiencing difficulties finding someone. Now if this was a prize fight or a chess match, fluoridation opponents would be awarded the title by default. Normally, those who lack the confidence lose the prize. But not in the fluoridation battle. They keep declining challenges to an open public debate, and they keep getting away with it. Only rarely do the press smell a rat (or a chicken) in these refusals. Only a few journalists and editors stop to wonder what it means for those who so vociferously defend a practice in “private” but cannot do so in public.
For those who take the time to read the literature it is quite obvious why the promoters do not defend this issue.
First, the notion of putting industrial grade toxic chemicals into the drinking water (of which the most common have never been tested toxicologically and have never been approved as medication by the FDA), in violation of the individual’s right to informed consent, to secure a benefit which the largest surveys indicate only saves a clinically and statistically insignificant six tenths of one tooth surface out of 128 tooth surfaces in a child’s mouth (Brunelle and Carlos, 1990), while at the same time damaging the enamel of between 30 and 50% (Hellier et al, 1997 and McDonagh et al, 2000) of children and accumulating over a lifetime in the bones and in the pineal gland (Luke, 2001), and which has been associated with the greater uptake of environmental lead into children’s blood (Masters and Coplan, 1999, 2000) is so utterly preposterous that no one in their right mind would go out on a public platform and defend the practice against ANYONE who has studied the literature.
Second, they are in charge. They have the support of the most powerful government in the world. As Dr. Brian Martin has made clear in his excellent book, “Scientific Knowledge in Controversy: the Social Dynamics of the Fluoridation Debate” (SUNY Press, Albany NY,1990), this issue is not propagated by scientific information but by power. And we all know, power corrupts. In this case it has corrupted the health agencies we look to defend us from disease. In particular, it has corrupted the CDC . This agency which is cited all over the world for its incredible statement that fluoridation is one of the top ten medical achievements of the twentieth century (MMWR, October 22, 1999) was 6 years out of date on the health literature it cited to defend such a view. Furthermore, the CDC claim that the reduction in tooth decay in 12 year olds is directly related to the percentage of the US population drinking fluoridated water, can be seen to be clearly erroneous to anyone who has inspected WHO figures available online, which demonstrate similar or greater declines in 12-year olds, over the same period, in countries which have never fluoridated their water. Knowing how readily available such dental figures are, one has to suppose either enormous incompetence on the behalf of the CDC authors, or outright fraudulent intent. Be that as it may how can any impartial observer accept that those claiming fluoridation as one of the top ten medical achievements of the twentieth century, cannot find any person in their ranks to defend the practice in public?
The number one task of opponents is to find a way to take truth to power. This US EPA debate invitation is one of our greatest opportunities to do just that. Hopefully, the proponents will be sufficiently embarassed to defend their position. But failing this we must let everyone in the press and in the corridors of power in Washington know that the proponents failed this challenge. We must make this visible.
In the letter below from Dr. William Hirzy, Vice-President of the US EPA Union which represents professionals at their Washington DC headquaters, to a congressional aide, spells out the significance of this event. I urge our readers to use all their imagination and energy to get this message to anyone they know in Washington, DC – in politics – in the press corps -in environmental and other organizations. Don’t let them get away with it this time! It’s time for the proponents to put up or shut up. They have the time, they have the budget, they have the experts to make their case in spades. They have no excuses, except that they don’t have a credible defence.
p.s. You can access your Congressional representative’s email addresses and telephone numbers online at http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/congress-email.html
To a Congressional aide.
Subject: Social Science and the Resistance to Water Fluoridation
The title of this message is also the title of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science Forum session at 3:30-5:00 p.m. on May 6 in the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C.
Roberta Baskin, a nationally known television newswoman, will moderate the session.
As yet, EPA has not been able to find someone, in government or not, to answer in a public forum the criticisms of those who resist the practice of adding fluoride in one form or another to public water supplies.
Though EPA took responsibility for obtaining someone to speak on the defense side, this has not yet happened. It is possible – perhaps not probable – that this exchange of opposing views could be cancelled if this situation is not changed.
It is imperative that this Science Forum session go forward in the interest of informing government, in the broadest sense, of the rationales for opposing or promoting water fluoridation. When government is able fully to inform itself of citizens’ views and the reasons for them, then under our system of government the most acceptable policies should be adopted. Such an exchange of information between the government and the governed is this session.
The setting for this exchange is across the street fromThe National Press Club. It is twelve blocks from the U.S. Capitol – and closer than that to Congressional staff offices. The White House’s staff offices are four blocks down the street. Interesting people are right in the neighborhood.
This is a pivotal moment in the history of fluoridation, and there is a way for you to influence what it brings.
What you can do is disseminate news about the potential loss of this session to everyone you know who is interested in how this turns out.
The news must include an urgent request for them to ask their Congressional delegations to ask EPA how the search for a defender is going, and to tell EPA that the Congressional office will do all it can to help find someone to defend fluoridation, and that they fully expect the Science Forum Session to proceed as scheduled.
An articulate spokesperson for those who resist fluoridation was agreed to by EPA and the Agency’s Headquarters professionals union, National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 280, co-sponsors of the session. (There is time for only one speaker on each side in a 1.5 hour session.) The opponent is Professor Paul Connett of the Chemistry Department of St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York. Professor Connett led a Canton citizens group that succeeded in blocking fluoridation of the local water supply. He has studied other environmental problems, including dioxin and incineration, and around the globe he is a highly sought after speaker on them as well as on fluoride.
Again, spread the word for Congress to make sure EPA and the union are able to put on this Science Forum session. Feel free to use any portion of this message in yours to friends, allies and Congress.
It is important to show how well government can function when citizens, the Civil Service, the Congress and the Executive work in tandem for the good of the people.
NTEU Chapter 280