The development of mobile communication technologies starting with 1G up to now 5G is a success story rarely heard of previously. It has only been possible because industry experts in charge of the technology assumed that radiofrequency (RF) radiation and its modulations – similar to visible light – are biologically harmless. They believed in safety limits that reliably protect people only from the acute thermal effects of RF radiation inherent in the system. Biological effects below the safety limits were categorically ruled out because their existence allegedly contradicted the laws of physics.
So, the technical use of RF radiation in mobile communication has experienced hardly any limitation. Doubts about the harmlessness of this radiation, just as old as the technique itself, have been countered by the mobile communication industry as wrong and without basis. Compliant scientists, whose preferred opinion was more important than their qualifications, were generously supported and, by using political connections, placed in national and international advisory and decision-making bodies.
A milestone in putting through the interests of the mobile communication industry was the establishment of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) in 1992. It is a non-governmental organization. Michael Repacholi, then head of the WHO’s EMF Project, managed to get official recognition for this group by the WHO as well as the EU and a series of its member states, among them Germany. Repacholi, first ICNIRP chairman and later emeritus – member, left the WHO after allegations of corruption in 2006 and found a new position as a consultant to an American electricity provider. ICNIRP’s most important task is the establishment of safety limits for non-ionizing radiation including RF radiation. Its decisions are of utmost importance for the mobile communication industry’s economic and strategic planning. The ICNIRP, whose members are convinced of the harmlessness of RF radiation, has never changed its attitude despite all research progress made in this field since 1992. To guarantee that the mobile communication industry can permanently rely on ICNIRP, the succession of a member who leaves is regulated by statute. The remaining members select the new one on the basis of mutual understanding. Together with the other groups mentioned above ICNIRP has ensured that mobile communication industry is not only dominating the technical research to which it is entitled to, but also the biological research – this at the expense of the human health.
How the Mobile Communication Industry Deals
with Science as Illustrated by ICNIRP versus NTP
Von Franz Adlkofer | Pandora Foundation for independent research