A national anti-fluoridation lobby group has slammed a recent Whakatane District Council decision to put fluoride back into the Whakatane and Ohope water supplies.
In January, councillors voted six to five in favour of scrapping the practice, despite referendum results showing strong support from residents in favour of the practice from both towns.
But during a special meeting of the policy committee last Thursday, councillors voted six to four in favour of adopting a notice of motion to revoke the January decision.
FFNZ national coordinator Mary Byrne describes last week’s revocation as a “shameful flip-flop” and that it was a “shameful day” for councillors who voted in favour of reversing the January decision.
“[We] provided the council with Ministry of Health data that show children in fluoridated Whakatane have about the same average number of fillings as children in the rest of Bay of Plenty that is non-fluoridated,” she says.
Mary has also taken aim specifically at Rangitsiki Ward councillor Gerard Van Beek who reversed his January vote.
She says Gerard understands fluoridation didn’t reduce dental decay but claims election pressure caused him to “cave in and vote against his better judgement”.
“Unfortunately for him, a person who apparently has the intelligence to understand the issue, he will more than likely deeply regret his flip-flop vote every time a new study comes out which shows fluoride’s harm to health and the environment.”
But Rangitaiki ward councillor has shot back saying there was no electioneering on his part as the residents of the Whakatane/Ohope ward could not vote him into council.
Gerard admits he’s not convinced fluoride delivers the benefits claimed by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board. However, he’s also not convinced fluoride is the poison anti-fluoride campaigners claim at the levels it is being added to water supplies.
“Like councillor Russell Orr, I have reservations regarding the addition of fluoride to the water supply and that it should be a matter of personnel choice.
“It already exists naturally in our water supplies at 0.06-0.12ppm and we wouldn’t attempt to remove it. I think it should be left at these levels but the outcome of the non-binding referendum strongly supported the addition of fluoride to the MOH standard of 0.7ppm.”
Results of the 2013 referendum showed 65.8 per cent of Whakatane residents and 70.5 per cent of Ohope residents supported fluoridation.
“In the absence of verifiable evidence that Fluoride causes harm, at the levels it is being used, and the community has voted for it, they can have it,” says Gerard.