Another legal defeat for NZ anti-fluoridation activists

The NZ High Court has thrown out the appeal from an anti-fluoride group against the decision rejecting their request for a decision against community water fluoridation. The original case claimed that fluoridation violated human rights legislation and was beyond the legal power of councils. The rejected appeal claimed that fluoridation was prevented by the medicines act.

Latest in string of defeats

Justice Collin’s decision is just the latest in a string of defeats for the anti-fluoridation movement in New Zealand.

Earlier this year the Hamilton City Council reversed its previous decision to stop fluoridation. This came after a referendum held alongside the 2013 local body elections decisively supported fluoridation. Similar referenda in Hastings and Whakatane also supported fluoridation. The local bodies national conference this year resolved to ask that the fluoridation issue be taken out of councils’ hands and handed over to central government departments. This was also a recommendation from the Parliamentary Health Committee last year.

This current high court junction resulted from an appeal against the High Court 2013 rejection of action by the “natural health” industrial lobby group New Health NZ to prevent fluoridation In South Taranaki. And in August the Royal Society of NZ and the office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor released a review of the scientific issues around fluoridation which supported its efficacy and safety. This review was partly commissioned by local bodies and will no doubt strengthen their resolve to resist future pressure from anti-fluoride activists.

All this means that the anti-fluoride organisations had lost much of their credibility with local body councils they formerly had. Serious moves to remove the issue from council consideration also weakens the activist strategy.

Fluoridated water not a medicine

In the current decision Justice Collin’s pointed out that in the Medicine Regulations 1984 “every reference to a medicine in this Schedule applies … only if the concentration of the medicine is greater than 10 milligrams per litre …”.  But, “when fluoride is added to domestic water supplies within the maximum allowable concentration of 1.5 mg/l the concentration of fluoride in domestic water supplies will be well below the concentration threshold required for fluoride to be a medicine in Schedule 1 of the Regulations.”

This “leads to the conclusion that the concentration threshold for fluoride in Schedule 1 of the  Regulations is so vastly higher than the maximum allowable concentration of fluoride in domestic water supplies that, when fluoride is added to domestic water at the authorised levels, it falls outside of the definition of “medicine” in the Act.” However, “fluoride would be a medicine under the Act if it was added to domestic water supplies in concentrations of 10 mg/l or more.”

7 responses to “Another legal defeat for NZ anti-fluoridation activists

  1. The case was about clarification of a legal concept, it was not about the safety or efficacy of fluoridation. Again you are engaging in distortion of the facts to reinforce your bias on the issue.
    It is unfortunate that some ‘experts’ have over the past decades used the argument that no science is valid unless it has been peer reviewed when time and time again peer reviewed science has been found wanting.
    I agree wholeheartedly with recent comments; “The peer review system is close to collapsing internationally under pressure from the expansion of tertiary education-associated science. Peer review has been the mainstay of quality assurance in science but it is a large but hidden cost on the science system. It is inherently flawed but, like democracy, no better system has been developed. However, the way peer review is conducted must change and the focus must be on finding and using systems that are transparent and ensure quality and integrity.”
    Instead of wasting your time and talent on beating up people who challenge your bias why not focus on co-operating with them on updating the quality assurance system you use as a foundation for your conclusions. It is becoming apparent that your conclusions may range from mildly astray to totally incorrect.
    Amazingly Justice Collins recognises; “The sole purpose in placing fluoride into (Community drinking) water is to prevent and reduce tooth decay”.
    He fails to see the connection between tooth decay being a disease and fluoride being used as a medication to treat the disease. How can using something to treat a disease not be seen as medication and the element used as a medicine. It simply defies logic.


  2. Trevor, I understand what this case was about having read the decision. You will also notice I quoted from that decision. You allegations of “distortion” I therefore interpret as coming from your disappointment with that decision, rather than any real description of what I have written.

    Don’t know where your diatribe against peer review comes from – it wasn’t mentioned in my article, was it?

    I have written about peer review before and it should be clear I have no illusions about the reality of its operation – after all I have often participated both as an author and reviewer. You should have noticed that I always put the responsibility back on the reader to approach the scientific literature intelligently and critically (something your and you mates seem incapable of doing). Just claiming a paper was peer reviewed in no way justifies the particular interpretation you may want to put on it for political reasons. Nor does it it guarantee it is infallible.

    Scientific knowledge is always being found wanting, Trevor. It is the very nature of knowledge that we never know anything completely accurately. There is always room for improvement, even change of basic concepts. It is one of the things that makes the scientific endeavour so exciting. It is also one of the things that makes scientific knowledge, imperfect as it lady’s i, the best knowledge we have. On matters of fact it is safer to rely on an intelligent interpretation of the science than ones one biases.

    But just to point out that science is always in the process of improvement in no way is an argument for throwing away the knowledge we have. That is an extremely naive and opportunist claim.



  3. Ii>I agree wholeheartedly with recent comments;

    (unreferenced phrase in quotation marks followed)

    I shudder to think how many times to date has Trevor A Crosbie been pulled up on quote dumping, quote mining and failing to provide cites for quotes, as he has done above.

    What’s wrong with you Trevor?



  4. Hi Richard – nothing wrong with me except I have issues with some people writing rubbish.
    Ken, I thought you may have been familiar with the passage I quoted, it was from a speech to an international conference in Auckland recently by the Chief Science Advisor to our Prime Minister.
    Justice Collins recognises; “The sole purpose in placing fluoride into (Community drinking) water is to prevent and reduce tooth decay”. I suggest there is an increasing weight of evidence that CWF is not achieving that purpose and indeed that it may be having adverse health impacts.
    You seem to be a reasonably intelligent person so I am puzzled at your inability to accept that you may be, at the very least, a little astray in your conclusions.
    I am still waiting for someone from your side to cite substantive evidence that added fluoride is completely safe and beneficial. As I see it that would settle the issue.


  5. Yes, Trevor, I recognised Gluckman’s statement. It is not unknown. But so what? You don’t seem to have even understood the comments I made on the nature of scientific knowledge or peer review. All my own work – didn’t have to rely on a quote I didn’t understand. 🙂

    But I agree with Richard – it is very bad form to use quotes without attribution,

    You can suggest what you like about CWF but I don’t think your have the knowledge or credibility for anyone to takes your suggestions seriously. To extend on the observation of Justice Kos who wrote “Safe Water’s deponent, Mr Crosbie, does not hold any relevant medical qualifications.” Your really don’t have any relevant credibility in this area.

    So who would be surprised that you are puzzled?



  6. Hi Ken – thanks for that response although I hardly think my lack of a medical qualification in regard to the Safe Water Alternative NZ (SWANZ) court case is relevant to the credibility of the material presented to Justice Kos. My name was on the documentation as the co-ordinator of SWANZ not as the compiler of the material nor indeed have I ever claimed any scientific, medical or legal background.
    I would point out in my defence however that I am not a boat builder or professional sailor either but have built and raced a number of boats and won numerous events in the Hauraki Gulf and a couple of National Championships.
    The guy who invented the light bulb wasn’t an electrician and the Wright brothers were not pilots or plane makers when they flew at Kittyhawk.
    Interestingly you wrote; “Don’t know where your diatribe against peer review comes from”. and then later wrote ” Yes, Trevor, I recognised Gluckman’s statement”. How can you not know in one post what you claim to know in a subsequent one?
    The only puzzle is why I am still waiting for someone from your side to cite substantive evidence that added fluoride is completely safe and beneficial.


  7. Trevor, if you had read Gluckman’s article and understood the quote you used you would have understood my question. I certainly don’t describe Gluckman’s attitude as a diatribe – it’s a realistic appraisal of the natural problems. My approach to this problem has always been that the reader should beware, approach the literature intelligently and critically and not assume that peer review is “proof” that nothing is wrong.

    But then again, I doubt that you can honestly answer my question – it was rhetorical and I of course know why you used the quote. You have no understanding of the quote but think it can be used to “prove” that all science is wrong – or at least the science that doesn’t support your biases. Hence your diatribe.

    Trevor, I cannot judge your skills at sailing, etc., not having evidence. But your understanding of, and approach to, scientific information is pathetic. Yes, that conclusion is supported by evidence.



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