GP [Doctor] alleging violation of rights to sue State over fluoridation

By Fionnuala Quinlan
Sept 20, 2001

A GP [general practitioner] is suing the State for continuing to fluoridate drinking water, claiming it constitutes a breach of his human rights.

Kildare-based Dr Andrew Rynne said fluoride in Irish drinking water is recovered pollution from the phosphate fertiliser industry and contains arsenic and lead.

"They harvest it from the pollution 'scrubbers' in their chimney stacks. It has, in fact, no proven efficacy and its toxicity is not fully understood," he said.

Under Irish law, medicine is only permitted to be administered without consent to those who are mentally ill or by direction of a court or a guardian where the patient is a junior.

"And yet here I am every day of my life being medicated without my consent. This is as clear a violation of my human rights as false imprisonment.

"We the citizens of this State are human subjects involved in a medical experiment or clinical trial in an effort to prove or to disprove the theory an arsenic-containing pollutant prevents tooth-decay," he said.

The Irish Medicines Board, which is responsible for licensing medicinal products, is to be cited as a co-defendant in his case against the State.

"The IMB is in serious breach of its duty of care towards my health and towards the health of every citizen of this State by allowing an unlicensed and unproven medicine to be force-fed to all of us," Dr Rynne, a columnist with Irish Medical News writes in this month's issue.

Dr Rynne is part of a growing campaign against fluoridation. Already eight local authorities have asked the Government to be allowed to halt fluoridation in their area. However, they are forbidden to do so under the 1960 Health Act.

Ireland is now the only country in Europe to insist that drinking water be fluoridated, but Fine Gael has pledged to end fluoridation if they gain power after the next election. Some scientists maintain it is linked to cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, hip fractures and thyroid disorders, while a study published in the American medical journal NeuroToxicity found fluoride exposure could produce lower IQ levels in children.

Health Minister Michéal Martin set up a forum on fluoridation last year to investigate claims that fluoride in drinking water could be damaging to health.

The forum is due to report next month. A spokesman for the Minister said he could not comment until he saw the report.