USA: Dr. George Carlo richt zich in een open brief tot de senaat van Maine

dinsdag, 30 maart 2010 - Categorie: Berichten Internationaal

In een open brief schrijft Dr. George Carlo, voormalig hoofd onderzoek bij Motorola, aan de Senaat van de staat Maine over de misleidende informatie die lobbyisten van de Telecomindustrie verstrekt hebben aan de senatoren bij het debat over een voorgestelde wet die producenten van mobieltjes zou moeten verplichten gezondheidswaarschuwingen te vermelden op haar producten:

Bron: The Science and Public Policy Institute 24 maart 2010

24 March 2010: To Members of the Maine Legislature:

My name is Dr. George L. Carlo, and I am Chairman of the non-profit Science and Public Policy Institute based in Washington, D.C. Since 1993, I have overseen the world's largest research effort regarding the safety of cell phones. Support for this work has included $28.5 million from the mobile phone industry itself, with oversight by a specifically impaneled U.S. Government Interagency Working Group, and independent peer review coordinated through the Harvard University School of Public Health. My training in epidemiology, medical science, pathology and law, as well as seventeen years of experience as an independent leader in the cell phone regulatory, scientific and public policy world, give me a uniquely informed perspective on cell phone safety and cell phone dangers.

From this perspective, I was shocked today to learn of the outright misrepresentations and misstatements of fact now being propagated by the cell phone industry to convince you to vote against the legislation offered by Representative Andrea Boland (D-Sanford). Her bill would allow for an informational label to be affixed to all cell phones sold to uninformed consumers in your state. This misleading and factually inaccurate industry driven information is being carried on the website of the CTIA, the primary industry trade group as well as other individual company websites. There is no doubt that you also have been visited by cell phone industry lobbyists, laden with neat packages of data that weave a fabricated story also aimed at manipulating your vote.

To be sure, the minority report that has been forwarded to you from your Health and Human Services Committee presents a legislative action that is necessary to protect the citizens of Maine. While Maine is the first state where such important consumer protection steps would be taken upon passage of the bill, it will not be the last. This type of legislation is now slated for introduction in federal and other state legislatures, bolstered by the need for such steps once government leaders are clear about obvious facts that create public health vulnerabilities among more than 280 million Americans, including children and pregnant women in Maine. These citizens believe that government entities such as yours are protecting them � an expectation that is both reasonable and responsibly mandated by the oaths attendant to elective public office.

The relevant facts are these:

Cell phones were first introduced into U.S. commerce in 1984. However, unlike all other radiation emitting devices, cell phones were exempted from pre-market safety testing, the regulatory and legal requirement that ensures only safe products make it into the U.S. marketplace. At that time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is the safety authority with jurisdiction over cell phones, accepted that the evidence proffered by the industry derived from microwave oven studies, would suffice as definitive proof of consumer safety. Thus, the affirmative duty of the cell phone industry to directly prove safety prior to marketing was sidestepped. That error in judgment by the FDA in 1984 set in place a cacophony of misguided regulatory, legal and political moves that have had deleterious impact on hundreds of millions of U.S. consumers if only because they erroneously believe they are being protected when in fact then are not. And, if the dire predictions from emerging science regarding brain cancer and other cell phone related health effects prove true, it is an error that has already cost hundreds of thousands of American lives. The legislation being considered in Maine is a critically important step to stop that bleeding.

While the collusion of the mobile phone industry and partnered government authorities including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has created what amounts to an immensely confusing scenario for you to sort through, you can be sure that the profit motives of the industry propagate misinformation that is prevalent in cell phone advertising, company websites, package inserts, owners manuals, trade association propaganda and government agency assertions. Thus, the informational label you are being asked to vote on is necessary for practical reasons it is source of truth that your citizens deserve.

In addition, the facts suggest that the warning label is a legal imperative. In both our federal and state legal systems, it is not the responsibility of consumers to prove that cell phones are dangerous in order to elicit protective measures from government and industry. The product liability litigation and the regulatory systems underscore that the legal, moral and ethical burden of proof has been and continues to be on the cell phone industry to guarantee that their products that have been introduced into commerce are safe. To this point in time, the cell phone industry has failed to meet their burden of safety proof on any count. In fact, existing data show danger, not safety.

During the 1990s�, the program I headed which was funded by the mobile phone industry was intended to fill the safety study data gaps caused by the FDA's error of omission in 1984. Our work was specifically designed to meet all FDA standards for safety studies, including Good Laboratory Practices and other assurances of scientific rigor. As such, that work remains the only legitimate safety data on cell phones upon which a direct safety assessment can be made. Among the more than fifty studies completed in our program, were results indicating: genetic damage in human blood exposed to cell phone radiation; more than a doubling in the risk of rare neuro-epithelial brain tumors among cell phone users compared to non-users; and a statistically significant correlation between the side of the head where cell phones are used and the location of tumors among cell phone users. Any one of these findings, had they been completed in the context of mandated pre-market testing prior to 1984, would have prevented cell phones from making it into the market place. At the conclusion of the program in 1999, we recommended to both the cell phone industry and the FDA that a safety warning, similar to that now being proposed in Maine, be issued to cell phone users. No government or industry protective steps were taken.

The FDA has continued to fail in its duty to protect consumers from cell phone dangers. Historically and presently, the FDA refuses to demand both that cell phones undergo safety testing prior to marketing and that the industry look for health problems post-market among cell phone users. Post-market health data collection is standard practice for manufacturers of all other radiation emitting devices. It appears that the FDA is not seeking these data because it lacks the political will to recall or ban cell phones that pose dangers. At any point, the FDA can exert its authority and require that protective steps be taken. However, if the FDA's history on cigarette regulation is any gauge the time lag between the Surgeon General's warning on cigarette packs in the 1960s and the FDA's first real regulatory action taken in 2009 was more than fifty years consumers will be left unprotected and on their own for many years to come. The Maine informational label gives consumers a necessary interim remedy.

The FDA has de facto abdicated its consumer safety responsibility regarding cell phones to the FCC, an agency with no statutory safety authority. While the FCC has the duty to ensure fair and balanced use of the airwaves, the Congress has never seen fit to empower the FCC with safety duties. Even under its far-reaching 1996 revisions to the Telecommunications Act, the Congress limited the FCC authority to publishing emission guidelines that companies must meet in order to obtain a license to sell specific phones. That testing for Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is done by the industry itself with results submitted to the FCC on a voluntary and selective basis. The FCC does no post-market field-testing to ensure that those emission guidelines are met after phones are put into commerce. The 'honor system' is in place with the 'fox guarding the henhouse' for all practical purposes. Most importantly, however, is that the FCC's emission guidelines are not predictive of consumer safety. Promulgated in 1996 for digital phones and in 1997 for all other wireless devices, the emission guidelines are based on thermal data (harkening back to the microwave oven studies of the 1980s) and have been widely dismissed by the public health community as having no relevance to the pathological mechanisms through which cell phones do their damage.

The cell phone industry has failed to do its legal duty in proving safety and the federal regulatory system has failed and continues to fail consumers by succumbing to constant industry political pressure.

Further, the courts have weighed in as well. A series of recent appellate court decisions in both federal and state courts, including a decision by the United States Supreme Court refusing to grant certiorari in a petition brought by the cell phone industry to bar state court actions for cell phone dangers against the industry, has directed that states should address the issues of cell phone safety on their own. There are at least six cases active in the United States where claims of cell phone caused brain cancer are being adjudicated. Therefore, the informational label legislation proposed in Maine is directly in line with what the courts have decided regarding the appropriate division between federal and state responsibility in assuring safety among cell phone users.

Representative Boland is a courageous and thoughtful legislator who has gone where many other politicians in the United States can be expected to go over the next year. She has identified a problem, cut through the morass of confusion surrounding it, and has offered a practical solution that will protect the unprotected in your state. The informational label proposed in the bill you are considering should be a 'no-brainer'. It simply seeks to level the playing field for your citizens, so that they can make informed decisions about their health and the health of their families regarding cell phone devices devoid of necessary safety proof.

I would be happy to discuss and provide support for any items raised in this letter.

Sincerely yours,
G. L. Carlo

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