Dear IABDM friends,
Greetings from Minamata, Japan, where I have just witnessed the signing of the new Minamata Convention on Mercury. By our count, 105 nations signed. As president of the umbrella World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, I am here with a delegation of nine environmental and dental nonprofit group leaders from seven nations on five continents.
To clarify, “signing” does not mean “ratify.” So the nations are not binding themselves, but indicating an intention to go home and get the treaty ratified. Also, the signature page remains open for an entire year for those who for a substantive or political reason did not sign today. (FYI, due to the lack of a federal budget, the United States has no one here and therefore could not sign.)
For three years, our movement worked to make sure amalgam was included in this treaty. Now look how far we have come.
- Three years ago, a few scattered groups in developed countries were battling amalgam by themselves. Today, the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry is hosting a conference in Minamata so that environmental organizations, dental societies, and consumer associations from every region can share the projects they are working on to phase out dental amalgam.
- Three years ago, almost no government officials knew that so many dentists were still using mercury. This week, we hosted one breakfast for Asian delegates, then one for African delegates, on how to phase out dental amalgam – events packed with government officials who want to start the transition to mercury-free dentistry.
- Three years ago, amalgam use was as high as ever. Today, we are watching nations sign a treaty that requires the phase down of amalgam – a treaty that obliges nations to take at least two concrete steps in that direction, a treaty that can be amended to set a phase-out date for amalgam.
As president of the World Alliance for Mercury-Free Dentistry, I am proud to work with IABDM and so many mercury-free dental professionals all around the world – from dental professors in Africa … to dental students in Asia … to private practitioners in Australia … to dental nurses in Europe … to public health dentists here in the Americas … and so many more.
Thank you to the many IABDM dentists who made this possible. Your support over the years has meant we could get our team from six continents to these treaty sessions. It meant that we could stand eyeball-to-eyeball with the pro-mercury World Dental Association – whom we outworked, out-strategized, and out-pointed. It meant that people from developing nations could be there to speak for themselves – and personally refute the claim that they need mercury fillings in poor countries. As the staff leader coordinating the treaty meetings told me, "At the start of the treaty sessions, amalgam was not an issue. You made it into an issue."
I salute the outstanding leaders IABDM has had over the years, co-founders Ed Arana and Gary Verigin, Carol Arana, Bill Glaros, Mike Margolis, Nick Meyer, John Trowbridge, Blanche Grube, and Joan Sefcik. Plus my dear friend who was my dentist and your first vice-president, Andy Landerman. I appreciate the synergistic working relationship that Consumers for Dental Choice has with Dr. Dawn and Toby Ewing. Together, we have come so far.
Now we've got to get this treaty implemented effectively. We have the tools to begin the next phase – ridding our planet of amalgam.