A group fighting the fluoridation of New Zealand water
supplies is taking its battle to the Court of Appeal.
New Health NZ Inc today filed a notice of appeal against a
recent High Court decision upholding the lawfulness of water
fluoridation by councils.
New Health NZ chairman David Sloan says the High Court was
wrong to ignore fundamental human rights and its ruling must
not be the final word on the issue.
"The judgment, as it stands, has very worrying implications
for all New Zealanders. While fluoridation is the only form
of mass medication at present, the High Court has effectively
paved the way for further such practices," Mr Sloan said.
"A significant number of New Zealanders are already hugely
concerned by this issue. Our decision to pursue this case
reflects the importance of ensuring we all have the basic
human right of choosing what goes into our bodies."
Earlier this month, a High Court judge ruled that local
authorities had the legal right to fluoridate drinking water.
New Health New Zealand had sought a judicial review of the
South Taranaki District Council's decision to add fluoride to
Patea and Waverley's drinking water.
It alleged the council had no legal power to do so, and the
decision breached the right to refuse medical assistance. But
Justice Rodney Hansen rejected the group's claims.
He concluded water fluoridation was not a medical treatment,
and did not differ fundamentally from other public health
interventions aimed at a wider population, such as water
chlorination or adding iodine to salt.
Mr Sloan said the High Court ruling effectively enabled
councils to use water supplies to deliver chemicals for
therapeutic purposes. Chemicals for the purpose of birth
control, mood disorder and vaccination could legally be added
to the water supply at the whim of local authorities, he
The decision also permitted public health measures to
override individual consent, provided they were delivered in
a way that did not involve a medical practitioner.
"Based on the High Court ruling, if a person is prescribed
1mg of fluoride by a medical professional, they are receiving
medical treatment. If they consume the same amount through
the reticulated water system, they are not receiving medical
treatment, just treated water. That distinction is
ridiculous,'' Mr Sloan said.
New Health NZ's view, and the basis of its appeal, is that
the fluoride being used in the water supply came within the
definition of a "medicine'' under the Medicines Act and that
it was "medical treatment'' under the New Zealand Bill of
While fluoride worked by brushing your teeth with fluoridated
toothpaste, it did not work by swallowing it mixed in water,
Mr Sloan said. There was no reason to effectively force
people to drink fluoridated water.
Mr Sloan said the fluoride used in the water supply was a
by-product of the superphosphate industry, which also
contained arsenic, mercury and lead.
Bottle-fed babies and infants were particularly exposed to
the risk of dental fluorosis, Mr Sloan said. He urged New
Zealanders to check their teeth for white specks and
mottling, which could be evidence they had suffered from
fluoride poisoning as children.
Over-consumption of fluoride also potentially caused other
health problems such as skeletal fluorosis, thyroid problems
and lowered IQ, Mr Sloan said.
New Health had written to the Ministry of Health asking it to
take urgent and immediate steps to regulate the fluoridating
chemicals as a medicine. These steps included licensing the
manufacturer and having the Minister of Health approve the
substances as a "new medicine''.
"Fluoridation is a deeply flawed policy and practice and it
is time to consign it to the dustbin of history. The evidence
in support of fluoridation is weak.
"I am confident New Zealanders will soon come to accept the
considerable body of reputable scientific evidence that
establishes that water fluoridation is far more harmful than
its purported benefits,'' Mr Sloan said.