Anti-fluoride group in Wichita issues a debate challenge

08/22/2012 5:00 AM

08/05/2014 9:00 PM

An anti-fluoride group on Wednesday challenged the pro-fluoride group Wichitans for Healthy Teeth to a televised debate to be held by Oct. 17, ahead of a November vote on whether Wichita should fluoridate its water.

The group Pure Water for Wichita wants “an open and frank discussion” about fluoride, said Ann Garvey, acting as spokesman for the group. She issued the challenge during a meeting of another anti-fluoride group, Fluoride Free Kansas.

“I don’t have an interest in drinking the stuff,” said Garvey’s brother Jim, who helped start Pure Water for Wichita in June. He said his group is coordinating with Fluoride Free Kansas to educate the public ahead of the vote on fluoride in the Nov. 6 general election. The Wichita City Council on Tuesday voted to put the question on the ballot.

A spokesman for Wichitans for Healthy Teeth said Wednesday night that the group had not yet received any communication from Pure Water for Wichita.

Ann Garvey said at the meeting that Pure Water for Wichita was asking for a response from Wichitans for Healthy Teeth about the debate by Aug. 31.

“Our job is to share information and facts about fluoride and let the voters decide,” Jim Garvey said.

Ann Garvey said one of the reasons she is opposed to fluoridated water is that the fluoride added to water is not the fluoride that naturally occurs in water or that dentists use or that is found in toothpaste but is often the byproduct of phosphate fertilizer.

Indeed, “What are you going to put in the water?” is a question he has not been able to get an answer to as he debates people about fluoridation, Don Landis of Fluoride Free Kansas said at the meeting. About 60 people turned out at the Office Park Plaza at 4601 E. Douglas to help plan a strategy to defeat the ballot initiative.

“I’ve lost friends over it,” Kathy Deane told the group about her opposition to fluoride. And she added, “We can’t look crazy.”

Several people at the meeting acknowledged that fluoride opponents are sometimes seen as conspiracy theorists or crazy. Melinda Foley, owner of Food for Thought, said that she was talking to a friend about fluoridated water Wednesday and the friend asked incredulously, “You’re against fluoride?” She said yes she was, and she’d be calling the friend later in the evening to tell her why.

Landis said that if the debate with Wichitans for Healthy Teeth takes place, an expert with “sterling” credentials will be there on the opposition side. And he asked those at the meeting to contact their doctors and dentists to see where they stand on the issue.

The group plans to meet again in two weeks.

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