An award-winning organic-drink manufacturer from Lismore says the use of fluoride in town water could taint their brand and force them to relocate.
The claim comes as Lismore City will debate and vote on a rescission motion tomorrow night which could repeal the move not to fluoride Lismore’s water supply.
Council’s decision last month not to dose the city’s water supply with fluoride has been both praised and criticised by many across the region and the state.
Conservative councillors Graham Meineke, Neil Marks and Matthew Schiebl have put up the rescission motion to repeal that decision.
The move is set to be followed by further proposals for: council to conduct workshops on fluoridation before a decision is made, to support fluoridation of the water supply; and, if fluoridation goes ahead, to redirect costs back to state government.
Cr Marks is asking council to vote for an urgent workshop on the ‘benefits or otherwise’ of water fluoridation.
This is in stark contrast to the June 2006 decision to fluoridate, which was decided after reported intimidation and a seminar promoting it by the company selling the dosing agent.
If council votes to rescind its fluoridation motion and not to go ahead with the workshop proposed by Cr Marks, then a notice of motion put forward by Cr Meineke to reaffirm its June 2006 decision to fluoridate will be debated and voted on by council.
A further fluoride related notice of motion has been put up by Greens Cr Vanessa Ekins, requesting the state government ‘to fund the ongoing operating, maintenance and repair costs’ if council decides to fluoridate.
Cr Ekins says the costs could be significant and the state government appears to be shifting its dental health obligations to local ratepayers.
Council staff reported that ‘Rous Water has already asked the Department of Health to meet ongoing operational costs and the Department will not agree to this undertaking.’
Echonetdaily has previously reported on some of the potential health implications of fluoridating water supply, particularly for those suffering from kidney and thyroid complaints.
However, the issue of organic certification and quality of produce grown with fluoridated water has not received the same attention.
This was a point brought up at the last council meeting by Cr Gianpiero Battista who questioned fellow councillor and organic farmer Greg Bennett on the implications.
Cr Bennett was unable to address the issue on the spot, and declined to comment, saying that he and most organic farmers do not use town water.
Marketing and sales manager of local award-winning ginger and turmeric ginger beer producer Red Dragon Organics, Andy Gough, said he has concerns about the quality and certification of the company’s product if a fluoridating agent is added to the town water.
‘Every aspect of our business is organic, our produce is organic, our kitchen is certified organic and the end product is also certified organic,’ Mr Gough said.
‘We do use town water which we filter and run through another system, so adding fluoride and the other chemicals that go with it will only taint our product giving us no way to filter them all out.
‘We are very concerned and there are only two options to get around it. One is to install tanks or relocate.
‘How can they cite dental health as the justification when they don’t know what percentage of that water will be drunk by people? Why do we need to water our gardens with fluoride?’ he said.
Most organic producers take their products seriously as many of their customers either by choice or for health reasons reduce or eliminate their exposure to chemicals.
‘One of our customers is young and suffers from crippling arthritis and has allergies to pharmaceuticals so he needs to be aware of what he exposes himself to,’ said Mr Gough.
Echonetdaily contacted two Australian certification bodies, with only one providing a formal response to the question of whether adding the fluoride dosing agent in production would affect certification.
Spokesperson for Australian Organic, Kathy Cogo, said ‘the organic standards in Australia and worldwide require that water used on certified organic crops is potable water’.
‘If water is contaminated it needs to be filtered but organic producers are not required to further filter water to exclude fluoride, if it is deemed potable. Adding additional fluoride isn’t permitted,’ Ms Cogo said.
If adding the fluoride dosing agent to water is deemed as ‘medication’, then production of food or drinks with this ‘medication’ may also have implications.
These implications were investigated in a 2005 landmark European Court of Justice case where it was suggested that not only does the ruling ban the use of fluoridated water for all retail catering and wholesale food processing in the UK and Ireland, it also prohibits such trade from these states to other member states of the EC.
But it goes much further, this prohibition must also apply to the importing of such products in EC member states from any other country that practises water fluoridation.
The decision effectively bans all processed food products from countries such as USA, Australia and New Zealand, unless they can be positively proven to have been prepared using only water that was not fluoridated.
However, Ms Cogo said that to date ‘Australian Organic isn’t aware of instances where food grown with fluoridated water has interrupted international trade.’
The details of this decision are looked at by Dr Ajay Shah, director of AAS Food Technology Pty Ltd, on the Australian Organic Ltd (formerly Biological Farmers of Australia) website.
For further information visit www.bfa.com.au/portals/0/BFAFiles/126-OA.htm
Anti-fluoride campaigner Al Oshlack praised Lismore councillors for showing ‘great courage’ at their last meeting when they voted against dosing Lismore’s water supply with fluoride.