Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coming up next - medicated air!

I couldn't think of a snappier title, but I wonder when we, as a society, decided that everything needs medicating.

Last year I wrote about Queensland's move to fluoridate the water supply, and how there are probably better drugs to put in water that fluoride.

It appears this is just the beginning.  It is now mandatory to add folic acid to bread flour in Australia.  You probably haven't even heard of this before.  Niether had I until I read this article, which argues why this heavy handed regulation is stepping way over the mark. 

The justification for the new regulation is that folic acid is necessary to reduce birth defects.  But surely there is a better way to target the dietary needs of pregnant women (about 1% of Australians or 222,000 women at any given time), than mandate that all bread flour has added folic acid?  How about free pregnancy multi-vitamins (at a retail cost of $60 per pregnancy)?  They are extremely popular with pregnant women anyway.

Why bread flour?  Why not in cheese, or milk? Why not chuck some folic acid in the water with the flouride? It seems a more efficient way of mass medicating to me.

And I wonder how a single chemical that reduces the risk of a single medical problem, warrants such important regulations that impinge on the freedoms of the remaining population.  Why not depression?  Around 800,000 people suffer from depression each year - two and a half times the number of pregnant women.  And 430,000 people a year are treated for skin cancer, but there are no calls to mandate sunscreen in the water (why not, we shower in it don't we), or Vitamin B in our ice-cream.  It is just absurd.

Where will this medication revolting-ution end? Medicating the air used to be called chemical or germ warfare, but no doubt, its time will come, and we will feel so much safer and healthier for it. 

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