The ICNIRP: Conflicts of interest, corporate capture and the push for 5G

dinsdag, 30 juni 2020 - Categorie: Berichten Internationaal


The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection: Conflicts of interest, corporate interests and the push for 5G
Brussels June 2020

This report was commissioned, coordinated and published by two Members of the European Parliament – Michèle Rivasi (Europe Écologie) and Klaus Buchner (Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei), and financed by the Greens/EfA group in the European Parliament.

The report was written by Hans van Scharen with editing and additional research support from Tomas Vanheste. Final Editing: Erik Lambert

Foreword by Klaus Buchner and Michèle Rivasi

This report deals with an issue of which the importance cannot be overrated: the possible health effects of Radiofrequency Radiation (RfR) or electro magnetic fields (EMF); It deals more specifically with how the scientific debate has been hijacked by corporate interests from the Telecom industry.

After having read the reports of a journalistic collective called Investigate Europe, the many articles from Microwave News as well as all the publications from independent scientists from around the world, who for years have all been ringing alarm bells on adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones and EMF, we decided that we needed to dig deeper into this strange, unknown to the public but powerful scientific NGO based in Germany called the ‘International Commission on NonIonizing Radiation Protection’ (ICNIRP).

The findings of this report (‘The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection: Conflicts of interest and the push for 5G’) give us an uncomfortable déjà-vu: many facts and processes that lead to the actual situation whereby European authorities – from the European Commission to most of the member states – simply close their eyes for real scientific facts and early warnings. We have seen exactly the same scenario in the debate on Tobacco, asbestos, climate change and pesticides.

Also in it’s latest guidelines from March this year, ICNIRP assures the world that there is no scientific evidence of adverse health effects from the radiation that comes with the new communication technologies, within the limits it proposes. But at the same time a growing number of scientists and also citizens are worried that EMFs do cause health problems. ICNIRP pretends to be scientifically neutral, and free from vested interests of the Telecom industry. We show with this study that this is ‘playing with the truth’ or simply a lie.

Already in 2011 Dr. Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency said on mobile phones and the potential head cancer risk for EMF: “The European Parliament has responded (resolution of April 2009) to this public concern with a resolution on EMF in 2009 which, among other things, called for lowering exposure to electromagnetic fields and for lower exposure limits that would better protect the public from health hazards. We share these recommendations.”

McGlade pleaded interim actions to protect public health, particularly for children on the basis of the precautionary principle, as central to public policymaking where there is scientific uncertainty and high health, environmental and economic costs in acting, or not acting, when faced with conflicting evidence of potentially serious harm. “This is precisely the situation that characterises EMF at this point in its history. Waiting for high levels of proof before taking action to prevent well known risks can lead to very high health and economic costs, as we have seen with asbestos, leaded petrol and smoking,” said McGlade.

The EEA plea for a precautionary approach to policy making in this area, is based on an evaluation of the existing evidence and on the lessons from earlier hazards, analysed in the EEA “Late Lessons from Early Warnings” project. David Gee, EEA Senior Advisor on Science, Policy and Emerging Issue and on the drivers of this project said: “Mobile phones have numerous social, economic and even environmental benefits”, said. “However, there is significant disagreement in the scientific community about whether mobile phone use increases the risk of head cancers. We recommend using the precautionary principle to guide policy decisions in cases like this. This means that although our understanding is incomplete, this should not prevent policy makers from taking preventative action”.

In a recent discussion Gee stated that there are “several striking similarities” between 5G/radiofrequency radiation and many of the technologies or substances that featured in the “Late Lessons” case studies. Gee pointed to “a lot of hubristic hype surrounded the introduction of the new technology”. Gee rightfully points to a “marketing hype which is widespread” on 5G and “a failure to systematically and independently scrutinise the claimed benefits and costs of the new technology”. He sees a “gross imbalance between research on developing and promoting the technology and on anticipating and reducing potential harm to people and environments” as well as a “failure to ensure independent research into health and environmental effects that can help combat manufactured doubt”.

Gee was tough for the scientific community because scientists fail to acknowledge what they do not know and ”to properly understand and embrace knowledge from other relevant disciplines”. Gee also sees “a failure of scientists to be transparent about the paradigms, assumptions, judgements and values used in academic science and in their evaluations of scientific evidence in regulatory science. A failure of scientists and policymakers to appreciate complex and variable realities; multi-causality; and the likelihood of inconsistent scientific results. A failure by policymakers to understand the difference between the high strength of evidence needed to establish robust scientific knowledge and the case specific appropriate strength of evidence needed to justify timely preventive action.”

Late lessons from early warnings, is indeed also a clear pattern that rises from this report. And there have been more and more warnings (but unfortunately so far no lessons learned).

Also the Council of Europe adopted in May 2011 a strong resolution on “the potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment” in which it called upon governments to take all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields and said about ICNIRP: “It is most curious, to say the least, that the applicable official threshold values for limiting the health impact of extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and high frequency waves were drawn up and proposed to international political institutions (WHO, European Commission, governments) by the ICNIRP, an NGO whose origin and structure are none too clear and which is furthermore suspected of having rather close links with the industries whose expansion is shaped by recommendations for maximum threshold values for the different frequencies of electromagnetic fields”.

In an article, ‘Planetary electromagnetic pollution: it is time to assess its impact’, published in The Lancet (December 2018) scientists from the Australian research group ORSAA state that out of 2266 studies on EMFs, no less than 68 percent found “significant biological effects or health effects”. Significant biological effects do not necessarily mean that human health will be harmed, but is an important indicator for risk assessment and then for risk evaluation by regulators. To us the atgument that that there is insufficient scientiifc evidence for regulators to act is factual not corect and simply not true.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a global authority on cancer, concluded in 2011 that radiation from mobile phones is a ‘possible’ head cancer risk. And recently an Advisory Group has recommended that IARC should reassess the cancer risks associated with non-ionizing radiofrequency radiation with high priority. According to the panel’s report, published in The Lancet, the group suggests that the new evaluation should take place between 2022 and 2024.

In 2012 a group of 29 independent scientists and health experts from around the world warned in an update of their Bio Initiative 2007 Report, about “possible risks from wireless technologies and electromagnetic fields”. However, they acknowledge that “sometimes, science does not keep pace with new environmental exposures that are by-products of useful things we want to buy and use in
society. So, the deployment runs ahead of knowledge of health risks. It is an old story. This is the case for EMF (electric and magnetic fields) and RFR (Radiofrequency radiation).”

The Bio Initiative report underscores the “critical need to face difficult questions, make mid-course corrections, and try to repair the damage already done in this generation, and to think about protecting future generations”.

And they state that the existing public safety limits as formulated by the US regulator FCC and by ICNIRP do not sufficiently protect public health against chronic exposure from very low-intensity exposures: “If no mid-course corrections are made to existing and outdated safety limits, such delay will magnify the public health impacts with even more applications of wireless-enabled technologies exposing even greater populations around the world in daily life.”

In 2017, more than 200 doctors and scientists from various countries launched the, so-called 5G Appeal, that has since received more endorsements and whose mission statement starts with : “We the undersigned scientists and doctors(…), recommend a moratorium on the roll-out of the fifth generation, 5G, for telecommunication until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry.”

Since then there have been five replies on this Appeal by the European Commission, the last one dating from December 2019. The first reply, the Commission states that ‘the Commission is not aware of any conflicts of interests of members of international bodies such as ICNIRP or the members of SCENIHR’. One of the leading figures of the appeal professor Lennart Hardell stated that this «does not represent the scientific evidence of inherent conflicts of interest both in ICNIRP and SCENIHR. The European Commission seems to be ill-informed or even misinformed, as the EU seems to take information mainly from these two fraudulent organisations, but not from independent researchers. The EU does not seem to rely on sound science and thereby downplays the RF-related risks.”

It is clear from this report that ICNIRP itself does not have a sharp definition of conflicts of interest (CoI’s), nor does it have a well-developed policy to avoid these kinds of conflicts. It is a crying shame that under the pretext of ‘scientific uncertainty’ ICNIRP, but especially the European Commission and member states keep on failing to protect their citizens.
We very much agree with the title and content of the latest publication on Microwave News, which reads “ The Lies Must Stop, Disband ICNIRP - Facts Matter, Now More Than Ever” . There are two major casualties in this polarised debate: the truth and public health. Both are too important not to protect with all that we have. That is what we consider as our responsibility as elected politicians .

By MEP’s Michèle Rivasi (Europe Écologie) and Dr. Klaus Buchner (Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei)

For the full report and for the links in this foreword see the link on top.
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