Modern medicine is an integral part of our advancing civilisation. We take drugs on trust from our doctors, accepting that they have been tried and tested, and are the best known treatment for our particular condition.
One thing more we take on trust -- that the prescribed remedy, whether it be pellet, capsule or liquid in a bottle, will have been manufactured up to the most exacting standards of medicinal purity. With our rising standards of hygiene, we would not expect to ingest anything that had been contaminated, either of food or water.
Water especially! The most essential substance for the preservation of human life. Surely no one would want to poison or pollute it.
No? What about the fluoridation schemes promoted in the USA and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and to a limited extent in the United Kingdom as well? When they fluoridate these days, they do it with hexafluoride solutions extracted as by-products from chemical processes.
Subsequently purified? No, any attempt to purify would not be practicable, making the by-product inordinately expensive and economically non-viable. In large areas of the United States for instance, incorporating many of its major cities, the citizenry are drinking tap water which has been treated with an industrial waste product.
Why? Because round about the start of World War II surveys taken in the United States seemed to indicate that where public water supplies contain up to one part per million of naturally occurring fluorides, there is a marked improvement in children's teeth. Thenceforth the drive was on to improve our dental health by administering the fluoride artificially. The in-phrases were "raising to an optimum level" and "rectifying a fluoride deficiency", from which you're expected to conclude that fluoride is good for you.
Unfortunately the naturally occurring fluoride, a salt of calcium, is virtually insoluble in water, and cannot be introduced in solution.
So the early fluoridators went for sodium fluoride -- which is soluble -- and subsequently turned, for economic reasons, to the corrosive hexafluoride wastes which were presenting disposal problems at the smelter plants. In the leader page of one chemical magazine, it was reported that the mind "boggled" at the extra profits that were to be made by selling the troublesome fluorides to water supply companies.
In certain circumstances, and under influence of the profit motive, there are agencies within society which are apparently willing to adulterate our water, that most basic of human needs. They do not do it furtively, as fraudsters or criminals, but as appointed trustees of the public good. They include local councils, health boards and some blinkered members of the British Medical Association.
In this country they sustain "the British Fluoridation Society", which exists to entice, persuade or bully our elected representatives into ensuring that all our drinking water includes one part per million of fluoride, impurities and all.
And what are these impurities? They are many, and some are relatively harmless, but they include, in particular, lead and arsenic.
There are no safe levels for arsenic, whilst lead is dangerous for its effects on the brain. Chinese scientists, conducting research on school children with lead in their water supply, found a marked decrease in mental capacity, whilst in high fluoride areas such as the mountain regions of Yunnan, goitres -- enlargement of the thyroid gland -- were prevalent.
Interestingly enough, the same symptoms appeared in heavily fluoridated Michigan, where a common prescription from the GP's dispensary is for iodine tablets. No lack of iodine in Michigan's water -- or in Yunnan's for that matter -- but where fluorine is present, it prevents the essential iodine from getting to the body.
Is Mother Nature trying to tell us something? And should our legislators be tampering with natural processes, which are as yet improperly understood?
Yet mass fluoridation has been accepted Government policy in this country for nearly fifty years. Due to the vigilance of the Pure Water Associations, its success has been limited thus far to Cumbria, Newcastle and the West Midlands.
Scotland threw it out entirely after the McColl court case in 1980-82, and has resisted several attempts since then to have it re-imposed. Yet it remains the ambition of every new starry-eyed Health Minister to get his own fluoridation scheme lodged on the statute book.
Why? Money and influence, and the powers of preferment that they are able to confer!
Fluoridationists hog the limelight, get quoted in the prestige medical journals, and look with scorn upon their lay detractors.
The British Fluoridation Society is now getting more than £30,000 every year in public funds to promote its message, whilst its opponents -- once scornfully known as flat-earthers -- finance their campaigns by legacies and contributions from their own pockets.
It's very much a battle between the little people and Big Government.
An odd feature of this long-running saga is that pressure to fluoridate is strongest wherever the English language is spoken. It might almost be described as the English disease -- Scotland being renowned as the one English-speaking country to have its water supplies fluoride-free.
There are over 100 million Americans drinking that hexafluoride solution, and proportionately as many New Zealanders and Australians. The French medical academy dropped it on evidence that it increased the risk of chromosomal abnormality such as Down's Syndrome, Holland threw it out after a dramatic campaign that was decided in the Dutch Parliament, the Germans never evinced much interest, the Soviets were rumoured to be using fluorides to passivate prisoners in the days of the Gulag, and -- as noted -- the Chinese are pursuing their own independent researches.
So how do we improve our teeth without contaminating our water supply, and storing up trouble for other parts of the body? Most of us consume too much refined sugar, and that's reckoned to be the main cause of tooth decay, particularly in childhood.
Thanks to enlightened drives for better oral hygiene, the position has improved enormously in recent years, with or without fluoride. Thus far the instinctive good sense of the ordinary citizenry has tended to prevail. Even those with a very rudimentary knowledge of this involved subject react instinctively against being forced to imbibe something without their consent. Would that the Establishment could get the message, and allow us to focus on other aspects of the environment!