Green party

Blair fluoridation plan poses risk to bottle-fed babies

19 August 2003

A parliamentary vote scheduled for 8 September could lead to the fluoridation of all of Britain's water supplies (1) - but a new Green Party report, due for publication tomorrow (20 August), warns parents that infant feed made with fluoridated tap water could harm their babies (2).

The report, Truth Decay: Challenging New Labour's Propaganda on Water Fluoridation, highlights the increasing concerns about the health effects of adding fluoride to water, not least the alarming claims made by a group of Irish dentists that bottle-fed infants in Ireland - the most heavily fluoridated country in Europe - are ingesting unsafe levels of fluoride (3). And people in the fluoridated Republic are 40% more likely to get cancer than people in non-fluoridated Northern Ireland. Cancer is one of the medical problems which has been linked by scientists with fluoride.

The Truth Decay report also flags up warnings issued by American dentists that adding fluoridated water to baby formula puts that child significantly at risk of developing dental fluorosis - a condition that discolours tooth enamel (4). The government and pro-fluoridation dentists describe this as merely "cosmetic" - but it is also the first symptom of fluoride poisoning, and a government review found that large numbers of children in fluoridated areas have fluorosis at a level which is "of concern".

Cllr Vanessa Hall, the Green Party's Women's Issues spokesperson and mother of a young baby in Manchester, a city prioritised for fluoridation, comments:

"The 'fluoride' added to drinking water is in fact hexafluorosilicic acid. It's a toxic industrial waste product and, incredibly, it's never been safety-tested for human consumption. In fact fluorosilicates are banned from prescription under the 1972 Poisons Act.

"Most countries that ever fluoridated have stopped fluoridating - not least because of health concerns, but also because fluoridation is ineffective. Mass studies from Canada, USA and New Zealand have shown that fluoridation does NOT reduce tooth decay."

Margaret Wright, Principal Speaker of the Green Party and a long-standing health campaigner, adds:

"There are now only about half a dozen countries in the world that fluoridate to any extent. Tony Blair is taking us backwards. In the last couple of months Switzerland has stopped fluoridating, and Korea is stopping after its professional bodies came out against fluoridation.

"Fluoridation is an ill considered, ill advised and illogical policy. It has been linked with cancer, thyroid trouble, irritable bowel syndrome, premature puberty in girls, and a range of other medical disorders."

Assault on freedom of choice and medical ethics

But the bottom line for the Greens is that, regardless of whether potential harm is proven or disproven yet, the right to be medicated only with consent is a matter of established medical ethics.

Spencer Fitz-Gibbon, executive member and author of the Truth Decay report, explains:

"No-one has the right to medicate someone without their consent. That's a long-established ethic, and it's enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and Medicine. Fluoridation destroys that right.

"Our report Truth Decay will give people the ammunition to fight back against the government's assault on their freedom of choice and their right to refuse unwanted medication. Campaigners in any threatened community will be able to blow Tony Blair's fluoridation plan right out of the water."

He concluded: "If the law changes there will be campaigns all around the country. The Green Party will be well equipped to play a leading role in defeating local fluoridation proposals, and we'll make it a local election issue too."

Local Green Parties around the country are now urging people to write to their MPs with key facts about fluoridation, its health effects and the human rights and medical ethics aspects outlined in the report.

Notes:

1. The Water Bill now includes provisions that would require water companies to fluoridate the supply if the local health authority so demands. Most if not all health authorities in the UK are pro-fluoridation - unlike health authorities in most countries.
2. The 30-page report, and a short executive summary, will be published at Green Party Reports . Advance copies are available to journalists by email from press@greenparty.org.uk .
3. See Irish Dentists Opposing Fluoridisation .
4. See report Academy of General Dentistry.