The precautionary principle or precautionary approach to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.

The principle is used by policy makers to justify discretionary decisions in situations where there is the possibility of harm from making a certain decision (e.g. taking a particular course of action) when extensive scientific knowledge on the matter is lacking. The principle implies that there is a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge that provide sound evidence that no harm will result.

The term “precautionary principle” is generally considered to have arisen in English from a translation of the German term Vorsorgeprinzip in the 1980s.[1]:31

The concepts underpinning the precautionary principle pre-date the term’s inception. For example, the essence of the principle is captured in a number of cautionary aphorisms such as “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, “better safe than sorry”, and “look before you leap”. The precautionary principle may also be interpreted as the evolution of the ancient medical principle of “first, do no harm” to apply to institutions and institutional decision-making processes rather than individuals.

ref: Precautionary principle

On Wednesday the 19th of june Irish journalist Iva Pocock appeared before the EU Petitions Committee contending that fluoridation is a breach of the Medicinal Products Directive 2001/83/EC.


Article by Tim O’Brien a correspondent with The Irish Times. First published by THE IRISH TIMES on Wed, Jun 19, 2013.

‘Everytime we fill a kettle or mix up a baby’s bottle we are dosed with fluoride’ – Irish journalist Iva Pocock

Irish journalist Iva Pocock appeared before the EU Petitions Committee today as part of ongoing moves to end fluoridation of Irish water supplies.

Ms Pocock was representing her father the late Robert Pocock, a long-standing campaigner on the issue, who passed away unexpectedly less than two months ago. She told the committee residents of the Republic were the only residents of an EU state to be “mandatorily fluoridated by our Government”.

“Everytime we reach for a glass of water, fill the kettle for a cup tea or mix up a baby’s milkbottle we are forced to ingest fluoride. Whether we weigh 5kg or 50kg, are on dialysis for diabetes, undergoing chemotherapy or taking any amount of other medication, we are being dosed with fluoride” she told the committee.

Maintaining that consumers in Ireland and 10 percent of those in Spain and the UK “are being medicated by our Governments without any objection from the European Commission” she said the vast majority of national and local governments accepted that fluoridation was obsolete.

In Ireland, the Government through the Irish Medicines Board refers to fluoridation as a public health measure. But Ms Pocock said she contended, as did her father, that fluoridation is a breach of the Medicinal Products Directive 2001/83/EC.

This was because the substance that is being used “to fluoridate the Irish people”, hydrofluorosilicic acid, was being presented as having properties for preventing a disease, in this case dental caries, she said.

“Any substance that is presented as having properties for preventing a disease as defined under this Directive is a medicinal product. Hydrofluorosilicic acid is therefore a medicinal product”.

The hydrofluorosilicic acid that is imported into Ireland from Spain and purchased by the Irish Government in order to prevent a human disease, dental caries, requires a licence under the Medicinal Products Directive, she insisted.

“I am convinced that this product is being added illegally and in breach of of EU law. As guardians of the treaties and the enforcers of EU legislation the Commission you would be remiss, now that it has been made aware of the facts, not to enforce the Medicinal Products directive” she said.

Ms Pocock called on the Petitions Committee to the Irish Government that it therefore requires a medicinal products licence for the hydrofluorosilicic acid with which it medicates the Irish people.

Article by Tim O’Brien published by THE IRISH TIMES on Wed, Jun 19, 2013.

Alarmingly fluoridation of drinking water is outside the remit of the Irish Medicines Board (I.M.B.) as it is considered a public health measure in the field of preventive dentistry. This means that the fluoride that is being added and has been added for the past 50 years has never undergone the rigorous testing that a normal drug would go through by the I.M.B. before getting approval.

Iva Pococks argument is that the fluoride added to our water should be re-classified as a drug because the fluoride we ingest on a daily basis is intended to prevent tooth decay, which is a disease. If it is reclassified as a drug then water fluoridation should cease until its safety for human consumption is fully analysed by the Irish Medicines Board. Before a medicine can be authorised for use, an application must be made to the I.M.B. and this must contain all of the necessary data supporting its quality, safety and efficacy.

The objective of the I.M.B. is to ensure in so far as possible, consistent with current medical and scientific knowledge, the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines available in Ireland and to participate in systems designed to do that throughout the European Union.