Anti-fluoride campaigner tries to silence science

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2013

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University of Waikato boffins have been told to keep scientific facts out of the ongoing debate over fluoride.

Roger Stratford - an anti-fluoride campaigner and aspiring Hamilton City councillor - wrote to the university's chemistry department this week to protest at "the degree of casual support emanating from the chemistry department in local papers in support of the practice [of fluoridating water]".

"At Fluoride Free Hamilton we intend to limit the debate to the social science and public health aspects of fluoridation," he writes.

"It would be appreciated if we could receive some confirmation from the chemistry department that it will remain publicly neutral on the matter.

"Fluoride Free Hamilton does not have any issues with the chemistry department academically, it is the implications of modern science in which we differ."

But Mr Stratford's request looks likely to be disregarded, with anti-fluoride supporters being accused of using "pseudo-science" to support their theories.

Michael Mucalo, a senior lecturer and chairman of the university's chemistry department said it was important for people to have scientifically accurate information on fluoride.

That was why the faculty would continue to respond in print to letters to the editor that called the science of fluoride into question.

"We have a moral right as academics to give our opinions on this," he said.

"We want to comment on the science. If claims are made that seem outrageous, then we would like to speak up and give a balanced view."

Mr Stratford said while his lobby group operated on a shoestring budget, it was up against the Waikato District Health Board, "which has huge advertising resources at its disposal".

He yesterday denied wanting to keep academics out of the fluoride debate, when contacted by the Waikato Times.

"This is a peer issue. I'm a graduate of the department," Mr Stratford said.

"I'm not suggesting anything political.

"It's just a friendly discussion among peers."

When asked by the Times to clarify his opinion on fluoride Mr Stratford hung up.

Hamilton voters will get to decide through a referendum in October whether to quash a controversial decision by Hamilton City Council that last month ended fluoridation of the city's water supply. mike.mather@waikatotimes.co.nz

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