~e; Time To Stop the WHO Charade
"Susan Rubel" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Wed Jul 6, 2005 2:12:34 AM US/Central
=46rom the Field
July 5, 2005July 5, 2005
Time To Stop the WHO Charade
Now we know what Mike Repacholi has been doing
since the infamous Mike-and-Leeka flip-flop of
2003. Back then Repacholi and his assistant Leeka
Kheiefets decided that there was no need to apply
the precautionary principle to EMFs=97soon after
telling everyone that the time for action had
It appears that for the last two-and-a-half years,
when not shuttling from one meeting to another,
Mike has been cataloguing ways the WHO can avoid
taking precautionary steps to reduce EMF
Mike=92s apologia will be presented next week at a
three-day workshop in Ottawa, July 11-13. He calls
it a policy framework. We call it a sham. Mike has
assembled a list of reasons for doing nothing.
Electric utilities and telecom companies could
have written the WHO plan. They may well have
played a leading role.
You can see where Mike=92s sympathies lie from the
workshop agenda: the GSM Association, the U.K.
National Grid, the American Chemical Council,
Shell Canada, have all been invited to speak,
together with an assortment of academics, risk
consultants and a few of his WHO buddies.
Mike has not even made a pretense of having a
balanced program. Absent are labor, consumer and
environmental groups, save one small Canadian
organization. John Swanson of the National Grid
will be in Ottawa, but Alasdair Phillips,
England=92s leading and most knowledgeable EMF
activist, will not be there=97no doubt because he
would openly challenge Repacholi=92s pro-industry
Power lines or mobile phones are not really even
on the workshop agenda. Only Mike is slated to
address the EMF issue. Instead, the Ottawa
workshop will address many of the major social
risks that are in the news: global warming, mad
cow disease, and even a flu pandemic which could
wipe out many of us long before the ice caps melt.
Mike=92s message is loud and clear: Don=92t worry
about a tiny=97and unlikely=97EMF health risk when
there are more important threats on the horizon.
Back in early 2003, there were enough reasons to
invoke the precautionary principle for
power-frequency EMFs and for RF from mobile
phones. Over the last year, more studies have
reaffirmed the need for caution. Three different
data sets now implicate long-term use of mobile
phones with acoustic tumors: Two from the =D6reboro
group and one from the Karolinska group. The
University of Vienna has found support for Henry
Lai and NP Singh=92s studies showing that RF
radiation can break DNA=97these results from the
REFLEX research program indicate that RF radiation
may well be genotoxic after all. And even more
recently, an Australian researcher reported
additional evidence that RF can break up DNA.
Just last month, a British team published a paper
in the British Medical Journal showing that
children living near power lines had higher than
expected rates of leukemia. The National Grid=92s
Swanson is one of the authors of that paper, but
at this point he is not slated to discuss it in
Mike has no use for any of this new information
=97none of it is cited in his framework=97because he
has already made up his mind that nothing needs to
be done. When the REFLEX DNA work first hit the
media, Mays Swicord and his team at Motorola
didn=92t have to say a word because their man in
Geneva, Mike Repacholi of the World Health
Organization, was ready to speak for them. Mike
offered immediate reassurances that the Vienna
results are spurious and may be discounted. =93One
has to question what went wrong, or was different,
for them to get the results they claim,=94 Mike told
the New Scientist.
Mike wants us to believe that his is the voice of
reason, but, in fact, it is his views that are out
of step with those of many national governments.
China, Italy, Switzerland and Russia have all
adopted precautionary exposure limits =97directly
rejecting Mike=92s pleas for harmonizing radiation
standards. Expert panels in England, France,
Germany and Russia have all issued statements
discouraging kids from using mobile phones.
To his shame, Mike was the only member of Sir
William Stewart=92s panel in the U.K., when, in
2000, it was the first to call for children to
avoid cell phones. English kids, like others
everywhere, love their mobile phones and use them
all the time. Neither they nor most of their
parents have ever heard of Sir William=92s
cautionary advice. But even though largely ignored
by consumers, Sir William, with this single
recommendation, underscored our ignorance about
radiation health effects and prompted continued
health research. He set a tone for others to
Sir William=92s imperative is to protect public
health. That is also supposed to be Mike=92s mission
at the WHO. But his words and action make it clear
that his principal interest is in the well-being
of his corporate friends.
As the old saying goes, =93If it walks like a duck,
and quacks like a duck, then it=92s a sure bet, that
it=92s a duck.=94 Mike=92s actions and words are those
of an industry operative. And for all we know he
may be one.
Mike has repeatedly refused to disclose who is
paying for his EMF project and all its conferences
and workshops. We do know that WHO does not foot
the bill. Mike has to raise his own budget and
travel funds. We also know that he found a way to
skirt the WHO rules that bar direct industry
support =97the mobile phone manufacturers have said
that they provide him with $150,000 a year with
additional money for meeting and travel expenses.
But where does all the other money come from?
What=92s stopping Mike from doing the right thing?
Why doesn=92t he issue a simple and clear message
that EMFs and RF radiation present possible health
risks and that, until more answers are in hand, we
should try to reduce unnecessary exposures. All he
needs to do is to offer a single sentence of
advice: Be careful until we know more about the
health risks. That=92s it. A simple public health
message of caution from the World Health
It's time for the Mike-and-Leeka charade to come
to an end. Show us the money, Mike. Show us who=92s
paying the bill. Maybe then we will know who you
are really working for.
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