The complainant, Jack Locke, thought that a story on the World at Six took sides in a running controversy over adding fluoride to drinking water. As a long-time opponent of fluoridation, he found that hard to swallow.
You found fault with a radio story which ran on the January 23rd edition of The World at Six.
The story, by CBC health reporter Vik Adophia, concerned a recent decision by Windsor, Ontario to reintroduce fluoride to its water supply. The city had stopped fluoridation five years earlier, but reversed course after experiencing a spike in the rate of tooth decay among local children. You called the World at Six coverage biased and inaccurate, raising two specific objections.
First was the way the program introduced the report, in particular a sentence reading “Fluoridation is backed by scientific consensus, and public health agencies.”
You said that was untrue:
“For the CBC to state that there is a “consensus” on the health and safety of fluoridation is plain incorrect.”
The second objection was to remarks in the story made by McGill University chemistry professor Joe Schwarcz. Dr. Schwarcz stated there is “overwhelming evidence” that fluoridation reduces cavities, and suggested that opposition to the practice often reflects a lack of scientific literacy.
You argued that Dr. Schwarcz is not an expert on water fluoridation, and he should have known that there are credible voices on the other side:
“At present there are numerous health professionals in Canada that have studied the subject and oppose this practice. Regardless, the CBC piece was not objective nor balanced. It was promotion. ”
Mark Harrison, Executive Producer of CBC’s Health, Science and Technology Unit, responded to your complaint and defended the coverage.