A nationwide campaign, called Rethink has been launched in New Zealand, in order to oppose the Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill, which was published a year ago.
The Fluoridation of Drinking Water Bill, introduced by the previous Government and currently before Parliament, seeks to shift decision making from democratic territorial local authorities (local Councils) to District Health Boards, under the direction or at least heavy influence of the Ministry of Health, with no public input into the decision. Former Health Minister Annette King acknowledged this is effectively mandatory fluoridation by proxy in her speech at the Bill’s first reading.
According to a press release from the organisers of Rethink, the vast majority of public submissions opposed the Bill and currently only 23 of 67 Councils fluoridate their water supplies.
While the Auckland water system (excepting Onehunga and Huia Village) has been fluoridated since 1966, Pukekohe has had fluoridated water since 1979 and Patamahoe, Clarks Beach, Waiau Pa and Glenbrook Beach have been part of the fluoridated water system since 2014, without their knowledge, initially – or the legally required consultations.
The details emerged when Fluoride Free NZ investigated the actual readings provided by Watercare’s own annual water quality reports. The analysis showed that these townships had never been fluoridated.
The Watercare initiative to supposedly improve the water quality by connecting the townships to the Waikato Pipeline had the consequence of beginning fluoridation for the five Franklin Ward townships.
By 2016, Watercare had reduced its target fluoride levels from 0.85 parts per million to 0.7ppm, due to recommendations that drinking water should range from between 0.7 and 1.0ppm and shouldn’t exceed 1.5ppm.
While most of Auckland is fluoridated, one council has managed to win out against the practise. Auckland Councillors overwhelmingly voted to reject a proposal to add hazardous fluoride chemicals to the drinking water of Onehunga residents, voting 18 to three against the motion.
A referendum was held in what was the Onehunga Borough in 2001 which resulted in 66 per cent of voters opposing fluoridation. When Metro Water was in charge of supplying drinking water to many households in Onehunga, 2,000 households requested notification of any planned maintenance shutdowns to ensure that they could make alternative arrangements to access non-fluoridated drinking water.
This notification is possibly the greatest example of informed consent regarding fluoridation in New Zealand. Watercare Services Ltd no longer provides this service citing cost as the reason.
Retired dentists’ Dr Lawrie Brett and Dr John Jukes will head the Rethink campaign and they say, "International peer-reviewed research has shown fluoridation to be unsafe and ineffective, which is why it is not endorsed by the majority of international health authorities."
The coalition behind Rethink Fluoride notes that, if this Bill is passed, New Zealand will become one of only three countries in the world with mandatory fluoridation and without addressing the larger issues arising from fluoridation.
Rethink Fluoride’s objective is to encourage Parliament not to proceed with the Bill and use this opportunity to take a fresh look at the fluoridation issue. This is especially important today with the growing body of evidence pointing to harm from fluoride even at levels we have previously believed to be safe.
"New Zealand is one of a tiny minority of countries that fluoridate drinking water, as a result of ties with the USA. Less than five percent of the world’s population is fluoridated, with more and more cities stopping every year. Unfortunately, New Zealand, as this legislation demonstrates, is apparently intent on travelling in the opposite direction,” says organisers of the campaign.
"We believe that, were New Zealanders better aware of the facts about fluoridation, our parliamentarians would be less inclined to disregard the body of evidence against the fluoridation of our drinking water."
According to 59 human studies that have looked at fluoride exposure and effects on brain function. 52 of these show fluoride’s damaging effect: lowered IQ, behavioural deficits, nervous disorders, and memory disruption. The most recent, a landmark US Government funded, multi-million-dollar study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2017. It found that children exposed to fluoride in utero, to mothers experiencing the same level of fluoride exposure as pregnant NZ women, have reduced IQ.
While 97 per cent of Europe is not fluoridated, only seven countries have more than 50 per cent fluoridation. These include New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, USA, Chile, Ireland.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that fluoridation is compulsory medical treatment, and this breach of the Bill of Rights Act can only be justified if there are real benefits and no significant risks, it is essential that this balancing be re-evaluated in light of current scientific evidence.
"Just as we had to rethink lead in petrol, which is also estimated to have lowered IQ by five points, we need to rethink water fluoridation. In fact, we have more scientific evidence against fluoride than we had against both DDT and lead in petrol when they were banned."
As part of the campaign, a group of experts in their field will be visiting New Zealand in the first week of September. They include Dr C Vyvyan Howard, former Professor of Bioimaging, Nano Systems Biology, Centre for Molecular Biosciences, University of Ulster; Declan Waugh, Environmental Scientist and Risk Management Consultant; and Professor Paul Connett; all of which believe that water should not be fluoridated.
To find out more about the campaign and get involved, visit the website at https://rethinkfluoride.org.nz.