Sorting Facts from Fiction on Fluoridation – a Panel Discuss
Sorting Facts from Fiction on Fluoridation – a Panel Discussion Forum
The last year has seen heated debate over fluoridation, with both sides acknowledging there is a lot of misinformation in the public arena. A new independent professional group, the Fluoridation Information Network for Dentists (FIND), has organized a panel discussion forum on the15th of February in Wellington at Massey University to help clarify some of the key issues. The panel will include presentations from professionals with opposing views on water fluoridation, followed by Q & A, offering the public answers to difficult questions.
“The science on fluoridation has changed dramatically since the 1950s, but few professionals are aware of it. The public certainly isn’t, apart from active lobby groups. Only open, transparent, public discussion will resolve this long-standing controversy. The NZ Medical Association called for this last year. So have those opposing fluoridation. It is appalling that even dentists are not getting an objective exposure to the current science. This is why we have organized this event,” says panel organizer and Wellington dentist, Stan Litras.
A 2013 Waikato University survey about water fluoridation in NZ found that the public scored an average of only 1 ½ points out of a possible 13 correct answers. It also found that the more people knew about the controversial issue, the more they were likely to oppose it.
The decision is currently made by local councils. The most thorough and recommended practice for reviewing fluoridation policy is the tribunal process, used in New Plymouth in 2011 and Hamilton in 2013. The Ministry of Health supplied their top fluoridation advocates. In both tribunals, councillors found the scientific evidence and ethical arguments against fluoridation convincing, and voted to end the practice.
Kapiti Coast District Council will be holding a similar consultation as part of this year’s Annual Plan process. The process is recommended by the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister.
Three fluoridation referenda in 2013 were heavily influenced by expensive campaigns by District Health Boards. The Waikato DHB issued a public statement claiming that one of their key campaign aims was to “bombard” the public with their simple slogans.
World fluoridation expert and opponent, Professor Paul Connett, has accepted an invitation to the FIND panel. Professor Connett is the director of the Fluoridation Action Network (USA) and is a retired lecturer in chemistry and toxicology, with degrees from Cambridge and Dartmouth. The New Zealand Fluoridation Information Service, The Ministry of Health, Otago Dental School and the NZ Dental Association were all invited to join the forum panel, but all have declined the invitation. It seems some NZ authorities may havesuddenly lost confidence in their pro-fluoridation position when invited to join an open discussion about scientific research with Professor Connett and other professionals at an academic forum.
The Fluoridation Discussion Panel Forum will be held in Wellington on Saturday the 15thof February, at the Massey University Museum Building,1:30pm to 5:30pm. For more information visit: www.tinyURL.com/fluoridationForum2014