A Report on Non-Ionizing Radiation

Repacholi and Sound Science

August 3, 2005

When asked by a Canadian who is electrosensitive for a response to our July 5 commentary, “Time To Stop the WHO Charade,” here’s part of what Repacholi replied:

“As you know WHO has built the highest possible reputation in public health matters among the public and governments world wide and the EMF Project will not be deviating from the sound science course that sustains this high esteem, no matter what the pressures from self interest groups or individuals. Louis appeals to people who do not believe in the scientific method for resolving issues. He, like others who are unable to argue a scientific case always claim WHO decisions are industry biased—a completely untrue position.” [our emphasis]

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, our criticism of WHO’s EMF project has nothing to do with science per se, but how Mike Repacholi sets policies based on the science—both what the science tells us and, just as importantly, what it doesn’t tell us.

As we noted in the commentary, many national governments have looked at the same body of scientific data and have promoted precautionary policies. These include China, Italy, Switzerland and Russia. In addition, expert panels in England, France, Germany and Russia have issued advisories discouraging children from using mobile phones.

Perhaps, it is easier for Mike to single us out than to address those who seek to protect the public health of well over a billion people, including the national government of Switzerland, WHO’s host country.

As we have stated time and time again, the WHO should err on the side of public health, not the interests of the wireless industry.

We should also highlight Mike’s use of the phrase “sound science.” As Elisa Ong and Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco, have pointed out, these seemingly unchallengeable words were coined by the tobacco industry and other corporate interests to manipulate public opinion. Here is some of what they wrote in the American Journal of Public Health in November 2001:

“Public health professionals need to be aware that the ‘sound science’ movement is not an indigenous effort from within the profession to improve the quality of scientific discourse, but reflects sophisticated public relations campaigns controlled by industry executives and lawyers whose aim is to manipulate the standards of scientific proof to serve the corporate interests of their clients.”

The WHO has long been targeted by the tobacco industry in its continuing efforts to water down control initiatives. Ong and Glantz have also documented the campaign waged against the IARC study on second-hand smoke.

A detailed report on the tobacco industry’s nefarious activities was released in 2000. At that time, Nature ran an editorial calling for the WHO and other groups to “strengthen their guard against conflicts of interest.”

As we have reported (see MWN, N/D01, p.19), a number of the players in the mobile phone controversy have also worked for the tobacco industry —most notably, George Carlo.

Where does Mike Repacholi fit in to all this? No one will know until he opens up his books and tells us who is paying the bills for the EMF charade that he runs out of the WHO offices in Geneva.

Once again, we ask: Show us the money, Mike.