Fluoridation is mass medication, NZ Supreme Court rules
Water fluoridation is compulsory mass medication, in breach of human rights, the Supreme Court has ruled by a majority
vote. It confirmed that fluoridation is a medical treatment as claimed by opponents for over 60 years. It is not a
supplement “just topping up natural levels”, as claimed by the Ministry of Health.
The impracticality of avoiding fluoridated water makes it compulsory in practice, the majority also ruled.
Three judges held that there was conflicting scientific evidence, confirming that the science is NOT settled.
Chief Justice Sian Elias then held that fluoridation was not prescribed by law (i.e. is unlawful), applying section 6 of
the Bill of Rights Act. That was the correct decision in Fluoride Free NZ’s view.
The rest of the majority held that it was prescribed by law, and it was then necessary to apply a balancing test to
determine if the breach of the right - not to be subject to medical treatment without consent - was justified in the
case of fluoridation.
Justice Glazebrook held that it was for a local authority to do this when making its decision, potentially taking into
account specific local circumstances.
On the balance of information before the Court – the misinformation promulgated by promoters that water fluoridation
measurably reduces tooth decay and presents no real health risk – two judges held that it was justifiable. This is
despite the court reiterating that it is now accepted that benefit for fluoride is from topical application, not from
The Court did not consider information published since the original High Court case, and the recent US Government
multi-million-dollar study by Bashash et al
, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, carried out by top scientists and researchers in top North American
universities - had not yet been published. This study found that children exposed to fluoride at the same levels as New
Zealanders had significantly reduced IQ, which could easily have shifted the Justices’ perception of safety.
Importantly, the Court held that this question of whether fluoridation is justifiable is to be determined on the balance
of probabilities. There is no requirement for absolute proof of harm, as long-maintained by the Ministry of Health. As a
question of fact, the two judges’ conclusion is not binding on any lower court or any statutory decision maker. With the
overwhelming weight of scientific evidence that water fluoridation is ineffective and poses significant health risks,
this opens the door to end the practice at any time.
The majority held that tooth decay was a condition in the community that a local council could address (through
fluoridation) under section 23 of the Health Act. It necessarily follows that any aspect of health in the community,
good or bad, must also fall under section 23. This includes the current IQ level of inhabitants. Therefore a local
council is required to protect that condition under section 23. So if, on the balance of probabilities, water
fluoridation reduces IQ significantly - and half a standard deviation (5 points on the scale used in recent studies) is
significant - a council must not implement fluoridation, and in fact must cease it if it is currently in place.
Arguably, this mandatory requirement would override any direction that a District Health Board might give a council
under the proposed legislation currently before Parliament.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled fluoridation is medical treatment without consent, and with the mounting evidence
that it is ineffective and carries significant health risks, it is time for politicians and the health sector to rethink
the practice. Its days are clearly numbered following this judgment.