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NZ fluoridation report trashed by international reviewers

Fluoridation review unscientific and intellectually dishonest say international reviewers

Media release, NZFIS
Wellington, 11 September 2014

“Almost everywhere in the report, scientific evidence is selectively cited to produce a biased view of the evidence.”

“[T]his review does not meet the standards of critical scientific analysis. It is a political document.”

“This report is a clear example of cherry picking, where only select studies that support the 'safe and effective' viewpoint were cited.” I'm disgusted by how sloppy the NZ reviewers were. They were obviously politically motivated”, says Dr Hardy Limeback, former National Research Council Review panel member and head of preventive dentistry, University of Toronto.

“This report is such a joke that it does not deserve the time spent to critique it. Why do a scientific review on a political/propaganda report?”

These are the key observations of five independent international experts who were asked to peer review the fluoridation review recently conducted in secret by the Royal Society and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. Two of these peer reviewers were members of the US National Research Council panel that spent three years reviewing the research on fluoride’s toxicity – the most comprehensive review in history.

One key area of blatant misrepresentation identified by peer reviewers was the discussion on neurotoxicity, in particular the IQ studies.

The review falsely states that the Harvard meta-analysis found only a 0.45 IQ point drop due to fluoride, when it actually found a 6.9 IQ point drop. This error was publicised by the Harvard authors two years ago, after fluoridationists misrepresented the findings.

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“[T]he NZ authors’ inability to understand this measure indicates they have little experience reading meta-analyses. This gives us little assurance they have correctly interpreted other scientific papers they reviewed for their report” said one peer reviewer.

“The report's incredible blooper on the Choi paper casts doubt on its authors' basic competence to interpret numerical data”, says Spedding Micklem PhD, co-author of The Case Against Fluoride.

The review also misleadingly claims that all the IQ studies were at very high levels of fluoride exposure, when many were at levels similar to those experienced in fluoridated NZ communities.

The review then gives significant weight to the Dunedin IQ study by Broadbent et al, even though it is a very poor study that failed to allow for significant confounding factors, and where the total exposure to fluoride was likely the same for both groups.

“The NZ report authors seem to be simply regurgitating false claims that have been made by fluoridation proponents, rather than actually reading the scientific studies they claim to be reviewing.” “[T]he NZ Review’s emphasis on Broadbent’s study reveals they are either biased or incompetent, or both”, says Chris Neurath, Research Director, American Environmental Health Studies Project.

In all this report sets out to do what Sir Peter Gluckman inadvertently admitted when its existence was exposed by New Health NZ – to confirm “what we know about the safety and effectiveness of fluoridation.” This it has done, by cherry-picking studies that support that viewpoint, and ignoring or denying the validity of studies that show fluoridation to be not only ineffective, but unsafe. Documents obtained under the Official Information Act confirm that no review of toxicology studies was ever done for this report.

The review team was made up of hand selected fluoridationists to ensure this outcome. This practice was acknowledged in the otherwise pro-fluoridation book Fluoride Wars published in 2009. The authors state “A review of the membership of the various panels confirms that the expert committees that put together reports [over the course of 50 years] are rife with the names of well-known medical and dental researchers who actively campaigned on behalf of fluoridation or whose research was held in high regard in the pro-fluoridation movement.”

The NZ public, and local councils, deserve better than this scientific dishonesty and jacked-up ‘review’ panel. This review demonstrates why it is so important that councillors hear both sides of the evidence, not just one, as they did in New Plymouth and Hamilton. It also shows why fluoridation promoters are so scared of councils receiving such balanced information – they vote to reject fluoridation as a result, if they have the political courage.

“It is far from a REALLY critical review of the literature. It is NOT a meta analysis. It is no better scientifically than a dentist's review that is rubber stamped by uncritical referees and published in a profluoridation dental journal.”

The full peer reviews and comments can be found at


NZFIS was formed to provide unbiased evidence-based science on the fluoridation issue, following formation of the Ministry of Health’s lobby group, The NZ Water Fluoridation Support and Coordination Service, publicly calling itself the National Fluoridation Information Service and pretending to give unbiased information.

NZFIS draws its information from NZ and international experts on this issue, including researchers ion this field.


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