- 05 Mar 14
Ireland is now being recognised as a top player in the global stop-fluoridation movement
Last week, Bantry in West Cork became Ireland’s first Fluoride Free Town. Six businesses there are now officially ‘Fluoride- Free’, having installed reverse osmosis filters in order to provide their customers with fluoride-free food and beverages.
The move will soon be followed in other West Cork towns – and beyond. That the Irish business community is taking the market demand for fluoride-free water seriously is a measure of the enormous success of the Girl Against Fluoride, and other stop-fluoridation campaigns in Ireland. In Dublin, meanwhile, the vegetarian restaurant Cornucopia in Wicklow Street, is also fluoride-free – offering a guarantee against fluoride poisoning to customers.
An ever-growing number of citizens, councils and organisations have been demanding an end to the 50-year policy of mandatory mass-medication of the Irish population. It is clear that a tipping-point is being approached. We are on the cusp of mass awareness of the harm that is being inflicted – on people and on the environment – by the Irish State’s obstinate clinging to this reckless public ‘ill-health’ policy.
The truth about the dangers of force-feeding us all fluoride – “because it’s good for our teeth” – is getting out, despite ongoing efforts by the State and its agents to suppress the ever-growing body of scientific information linking water-fluoridation to serious disease. Increased public awareness is fuelling the demand for an end to the totalitarian practice of dumping a known neurotoxin and endocrine-disruptor into our water supply.
Whilst the burgeoning stop-fluoridation movement is clearly having an impact in Ireland – the only country in Europe still fluoridating its population, and the second-last country in the world, after Singapore, with a mandatory fluoridation policy – the campaign here is also receiving attention internationally, particularly in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, those English-speaking countries which still fluoridate at least 50 per cent of their populations.
The US-based Fluoride Action Network (FAN) is one of the most important fluoride-free campaign groups in the world. Michael Connett, an attorney, works as Special Projects Director for FAN. His father, Dr Paul Connett, is a leading scientific whistleblower on fluoride, and is co-author of the book, The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up In Our Drinking Water And The Bad Science And Powerful Politics That Keep It There.
Michael Connett has been working on fluoride for 13 years. The politics and history of water fluoridation have become his area of expertise. “You guys have been doing amazing work,” he says. “I’ve never seen a more exciting campaign. It’s having a galvanising effect, way beyond your shores. We always say at FAN that a victory anywhere is a victory everywhere. But to see a country like Ireland with mandatory fluoridation beat it would be amazing.
“When Ireland does end fluoridation, you will see the ripple effect across all the fluoridated countries,” Connett adds. “It will be huge. Especially since you already have 97 per cent of the European population drinking non-fluoridated water. Ireland is the main exception. So Ireland finally getting rid of fluoride would be a harbinger of things to come for the other countries fighting against this.”
Connett has been impressed by the Girl Against Fluoride (GAF) campaign, driven by Kerry natives, Aisling FitzGibbon, and her mother, Martha Brassil.
“The Girl Against Fluoride campaign is so inspiring,” he says. “The problem with the fluoride debate for years is that it’s been relegated to the technocrats and bureaucrats. The fact is that the health authorities haven’t done their job. They’ve been grossly irresponsible. So we need the public to be involved. So what is exciting about the Irish campaign, is that it seems quintessentially about getting the public involved, and saying that the public has a right to know, and to make a decision about this issue.
“As the old saying goes,” quips Connett, “if the people lead, eventually the leaders will follow. In Ireland on the one hand, you have Aisling, whose whole campaign is about making the issue fun and accessible.
“And then Hot Press is bringing the tools of sustained journalism to the issue of fluoride – we really haven’t seen that anywhere else before. One- off articles are great, but to see a persistent focus from Hot Press on fluoride, really keeping the feet to the fire – that’s very exciting.
“I really hope Hot Press are able to continue doing this,” urges Connett. “Journalists have generally accepted what the public health authorities say, and repeated it back. There’s been a scarcity of good journalism on the fluoride issue.”
The right decision
The whole premise of Fluoride Action Network and other stop-fluoridation campaigns, is that the public health authorities are wrong.
“They’re seriously wrong,” stresses Connett. “The fluoridation programme is causing widespread harm. And it’s completely unnecessary – it’s a crude outdated policy. And until we get journalists in the US questioning the assumptions, and taking issue with the public health authorities, we’re never going to make progress here. Bringing the tools of journalism to bear on this is what we need. Journalists in general are too deferential to the authorities.
“And in Ireland you have the added insult that you have a mandatory fluoridation programme,” exclaims Connett. “So it’s truly being shoved down your throats. The whole policy is the epitome of arrogance – ‘We know better than you, so shut up and take it, even if you don’t want it’. So it’s really inspiring that you have a major magazine in Ireland taking this on, as well as the Girl Against Fluoride getting celebrities and other people involved.
“I wasn’t aware of Hot Press before you were covering this,” adds Connett. “When Aisling described Hot Press as sort of equivalent to Rolling Stone in the US, I was like, holy cow! Because if Rolling Stone in the US took this issue on and started to do coverage of it, I would be thrilled beyond words. What’s critical about the Hot Press coverage is that you’re getting younger readers. That’s a key audience.
“Fluoridation is a mistake that the previous generations made. It’s for the younger generations to correct. And Hot Press, by covering this, is equipping the younger generations with the information they need to correct the errors of the past.”
With Michael Connett’s wealth of knowledge of the history of water fluoridation, what advice does he have for people in Ireland striving to end the practice?
“Public awareness is key to winning this,” he says. “The problem up to now is that the people have not been given the real information about fluoride, and they haven’t been brought into the discussion. Fluoridation just doesn’t belong in the 21st century.
“It’s antithetical to current norms about the right of the individual to make their own healthcare decisions. It’s antithetical to our understanding of how fluoride works on the teeth – topically, not systemically, so why on earth do you have to force people to swallow it? It’s antithetical to what we know about how fluoride effects human health – that it doesn’t just effect the teeth, it effects every tissue in the body.”
Michael quotes his father, fluoride scientist, Dr Paul Connett. “He says science is like a nail. But the public is the hammer. If you just have the science, you just have the nail. But you need the hammer of public opinion to really drive the science home. What Aisling and the scientist Declan Waugh and you guys in Hot Press are doing is showing people the nail. Now we really need to act upon it.
“Better information in, better results out,” adds Connett. “At the end of the day, individuals have the right to make their own healthcare decisions. But with fluoride, we never trusted people to make that decision. We’ve always trusted some white-collar person on some committee.
“Aisling’s campaign is all about trusting the people. Give the people information. Tell them what we know about fluoride, and they will make the right decision.”
Hot Press has previously covered the relationship between tea-drinking and fluoride toxicity. Because the tea plant absorbs large amounts of naturally occurring fluoride (as opposed to the hydrofluorosilicic acid dumped in our water) from the soil, drinking more than just two cups of tea per day with fluoridated tap water leads to fluoride overexposure.
The Irish population is also at exceptionally high-risk because most infants are bottle-fed, as opposed to breast-fed, using fluoridated tap- water to make up formula milk. Most babies in Ireland are thus routinely overexposed to unsafe fluoride levels.
“It’s problematic for you to be relying on fluoride studies from the US and other areas, because we don’t drink nearly as much tea as the Irish,” says Connett. “And that’s a huge source of fluoride exposure. So you need to have your own studies done on your own population.”
But those studies have never been done. In a sustained act of gross negligence, the Irish authorities have never tested the levels of fluoride that Irish people have in their bodies – despite the fact that such testing was actually provided for as part of the legislation that made fluoride mandatory back in 1964.
“All they do is they keep on studying the teeth,” says Connett. “They just keep the focus on the teeth, the teeth, the teeth. And even then they do a bad job.”
Connett advises that campaigners should be under no illusion about the powers ranged against them.
“People don’t appreciate the politics of this issue. The politics on fluoride are absolutely intense, and they have been since the very first days of this policy back in the 1940s. When it comes to the people doing the pro-fluoride research and promotion, it’s a pretty small group. But the institutions they work with have a lot of power.
“What is required is sunlight. We need more
and more transparency. Don’t let these people operate in the dark, because that’s they way they like it. They like to be able to do it on their own, in their own little committees, with their own little reports. It’s a completely incestuous community, the pro-fluoridation community. And it’s time for people who are not paid to promote fluoridation to have a say in whether you guys are still going to force fluoridation on everybody.
“So keep holding the health authorities accountable. Keep doing Freedom of Information Act requests. Follow the money. Question, question, question authority on this issue. And have fun as well! That is absolutely essential. That’s why the Girl Against Fluoride campaign is so important – it’s keeping the issue colourful, playful, fun. That’s the most revolutionary thing about the Irish campaign. It’s playful and sexy. And it’s going to win this thing.
“The world’s been waiting for a leader on this issue,” Connett concludes. “The ball is in Ireland’s court right now.”