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A Tale of Two Federal Agencies
By Nicholas Daflos

A good part of public service comes to us from government agencies that carry out their duties according to procedures set in federal law. When these agencies do their work well, they are serving us well. However, on those occasions when they fail to enforce the laws they are sworn to uphold, they do a disservice to us all.

The American people are sophisticated enough to understand that the special interests in our society will receive special attention from those in government. The troubling question they have to face is: what are the limits on government largesse to the special interests? Are there any limits? After all, public service means that people in government are working on behalf of the public interest. It is said in government circles that bureaucrats learn early on that stepping on the toes of the special interests can become a career threatening activity.

A problem arises when the public interest and the special interest clash. How should a regulatory federal agency react to such a development? Let us look at two federal agencies whose purpose for being is to protect the health of the American people.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA has the responsibility of protecting us from polluters who would defile the environment. It sets guidelines within which individuals, corporations and even government agencies must operate. Its principal purpose is to keep the contamination in the air, land and water within safe levels.

It has been said many times in many places that a lie repeated often enough over a long period of time will eventually be perceived as the truth. So it is that the EPA, with encouragement from the United States Public Health Service, has spent decades assuring the American people that water fluoridation is a safe and effective way of fighting tooth decay although there is not a shred of scientific evidence to support that claim. To add credibility to this claim the EPA repeats it over and over again in the belief that constant repetition will gain acceptance. And, yes, many Americans have accepted the statement as true. Beyond the abundant scientific evidence available refuting the EPA argument, there is substantial data indicating far greater dangers to the human body. For example:

  • In 1982 at a meeting of the Japanese Association of Cancer Research in Osaka, Japan, Drs. Tsutsui and Mazama of the Nippon Dental College reported, "Last year at this meeting we showed that sodium fluoride, which is being used to prevent dental caries, produces chromosomal aberrations and irregular synthesis of DNA. This year we report our findings that malignant transformation of cells is induced by sodium fluoride."
  • At the University of Texas the research team of Taylor and Taylor carried out experiments showing that sodium fluoride induced cancer in mice.
  • In 1985 Procter and Gamble, carrying out its own experiments, had findings similar to those found in the University of Texas experiments.
  • The National Toxicology Program (NTP) in a study mandated by the Congress had findings that agreed with the three studies mentioned here.

All of these studies were carried out independent of each other, yet the conclusions were clear: sodium fluoride is a carcinogen and it is being put into our drinking water each day. In those areas where the water is fluoridated the people are robbed of their freedom of choice. They have to drink the water whatever their desires or their physical condition.

But sometimes we find improbable heroes in the strangest places. Dr. William Marcus, Ph.D., a senior toxicologist at the EPA, disregarded the old axiom about not stepping on the toes of the special interests and challenged the agency heads by publicly opposing the EPA claim of safety. Dr. Marcus kept abreast of all scientific work done worldwide on the effect of sodium fluoride. His experience made him an opponent of EPA policy which disregards all the scientific evidence and maintains support for fluoridation of the public water supply. He was, after all, a scientist sworn to serve the public, not to please his superiors. He was warned not to speak or write on the subject of sodium fluoride or his career at EPA might come to an end.

Dr. Marcus was faced with two options. He might yield to the demands of his superiors and remain satisfied that he had made his point, or he could defy them and put at risk his career, his reputation and the economic welfare of his family. Marcus chose the latter course to his everlasting credit. He was fired from his position. He sued the EPA, seeking reinstatement. With the help of the National Whistleblower Center in Washington, D.C. and the support of his old friend and colleague, Dr. Robert Carton, who had left the EPA in disgust over the same issue, Marcus won. The court ruled in favor of his reinstatement with full back pay and $50,000 in punitive damages. But it was not an easy victory. Gary Lee, a staff writer for the Washington Post, put it this way:

"The victory was not easily won. It involved two legal hearings in the course of two years. Faced with the loss of his $87,000 per year job, Dr. Marcus dipped into his private savings and, friends say, he fell into occasional periods of deep depression...In the end the judge sided with Marcus. It turned out that the EPA falsified his time card to show that he was pursuing other work when he should have been working at EPA and they made false statements about how he represented himself when he appeared as a witness at court trials."

Dr. Marcus deserves the gratitude of his fellow citizens. At FACT headquarters we regard him as a genuine American hero. He risked everything dear to him to serve his people well. We salute him for his courage and his integrity. Unfortunately, those unprincipled bureaucrats who resorted to fraud to "get" Dr. Marcus are still ruling the roost at EPA and there seems to be no effort being made to raise the ethical standards of the agency, much less, seriously address the risks of fluoridation.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The FDA has the responsibility of protecting the unsuspecting consumer from dangerous substances in foods and drugs. It does this by demanding that drug manufacturers prove the safety and effectiveness of their products before they are permitted to sell them on the open market. The procedure requires the manufacturer to fill out and submit to the agency an application accompanied by scientific proof of the safety and effectiveness of the product. Only in this way can the product gain the approval of the FDA. Without this approval the product would be banned and severe penalties may be levied on anyone illegally selling the unapproved product. How well does the FDA serve the public? Let us look at the experience of Assemblyman John Kelly of New Jersey.

In 1992 the New Jersey Department of Health carried out a study which showed an abnormal increase in bone cancer among young males living in water fluoridated areas. Assemblyman Kelly became concerned since fluoride supplements were being prescribed for children for more than thirty years. He contacted the FDA, asking for copies of the application and accompanying scientific proof which should have been submitted to the agency by the manufacturers who were selling the fluoride supplements. To his consternation he learned that no such documents ever existed! The Drug Enforcement branch of the FDA stated that these supplements were "unapproved new drugs." What becomes clear is that these fluoride supplements are being sold illegally. Someone has been violating the law for thirty years while the agency sworn to enforce it looked the other way. What is obvious is that the FDA has no scientific evidence proving that fluoride is either safe or effective for ingestion.

Assemblyman Kelly, apprised of these facts, demanded that the FDA immediately ban the sale of these supplements. There is no evidence that anyone has moved to force compliance with the law - either by the FDA or those producing and selling these illegal products.

How should the American people rate these two so-called consumer protection agencies?

The EPA insists, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, that the literature is replete with scientific evidence that fluoride is safe and effective. Yet, in court actions that offer an opportunity for that evidence to be made available to the public they came up empty.

In a case against fluoridation tried in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania in 1978, Judge John P. Flaherty stated in his decision, "The evidence is quite convincing that the addition of sodium fluoride to the public water supply at one part per million is extremely deleterious to the body and a review of the evidence will disclose that there is no convincing evidence to the contrary."

In 1982 in the case of the Pure Water Committee vs. Illinois Department of Health, Judge Ronald A. Niemann in his decision, referring to the state's case, said: "This record is barren of any creditable or reputable epidemiological studies and/ or analysis of historical data which would support the Illinois legislature's determination that fluoridation of public water supplies is a safe and effective way for promoting public health."

Pro fluoridationists have in the past requested the FDA to include sodium fluoride on its list of ingredients Generally Regarded as Safe, referred to as the GRAS list. The agency refused to do so. It is logical, therefore, to assume that the FDA does not regard sodium fluoride to be safe. We cannot argue with that position. After all, the American Toxicology Association rates fluorides as somewhat more toxic than lead and slightly less toxic than arsenic.

There are no whistleblowers at the FDA like Dr. Marcus. An appropriate rating for each of these federal "consumer protection" agencies would be F minus.

The final word on this lamentable situation should come from Dr. Alfred Taylor of the University of Texas: "It [fluoridation] will someday be recognized as the most lethal and stupid 'health program' ever conceived by the mind of man, witch doctors and blood letters not excepted."

Nicholas Daflos is Chairman of the FACT Safe Water Committee.

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