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20 October 2018

United Kingdom: Mobile Phone Cover-up? Gov't Advisory Body Disbanded - Inaccurate and Misleading Conclusions Remain

Mobile Phone Cover-up? Gov’t advisory body disbanded – inaccurate and misleading conclusions remain
by Annelie Fitzgerald, truepublica.org.uk, 17 October 2018

TruePublica recently ran a piece highlighting the most censored stories in Britain. One story that never made it into the mainstream media or even any independent media outlets in the UK at the time was the disbanding of the UK Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR) in May 2017. This followed the revelation in December 2016 that AGNIR’s latest assessment of the science on the health impacts of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs)—the type emitted by modern wireless technologies—was inaccurate and subject to conflicts of interest, a story that elicited no media interest in the UK either.



AGNIR’s role was to provide Public Health England with objective, science-based recommendations and advice on safe public exposure levels to man-made RF-EMFs. PHE is the agency from which the devolved UK nations take their advice, and other public health agencies from around the world also referred to AGNIR’s recommendations.

In 2012 AGNIR published what turned out to be its last report: Health Effects from Electromagnetic Fields (RCE-20).

The report’s executive summary included the following definitive-sounding statement on RF-EMF safety: ‘Taken together, these studies provide no evidence of health effects of RF field exposures below internationally accepted guideline levels.’

While this conclusion might appear to justify the dissolution last year of AGNIR, close examination reveals that the final AGNIR report was a partial one—in every sense of the word.

In December 2016 UK neuroscientist Dr Sarah J. Starkey published a peer-reviewed paper, ‘Inaccurate official assessment of radiofrequency safety by the Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation’, roundly criticising the AGNIR report.

Accuracy, Starkey pointed out, ‘is vital when most people only read the executive summary and overall conclusions from a 348-page report and national and international public health decisions and exposure levels are based on them’ (p. 494).

In reality, as Starkey demonstrates, the conclusions drawn by AGNIR did not accurately reflect the scientific evidence available: the report contained ‘incorrect and misleading statements’ and omitted significant quantities of relevant research.

For some reason, AGNIR set the cut-off date for research to be considered in its report as December 2010. This meant that it excluded reference to the classification in May 2011 of RF-EMFs as a 2B possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and to a paper by the IARC Monograph Working Group published in The Lancet in July 2011.

It is clear, however, that AGNIR’s official cut-off date was not always adhered to: for example, a paper co-authored by one of its members (Maria Feychting) and published in 2011 was included in the report. This paper concluded that there was no causal association between mobile phone use and brain tumours in children and adolescents. Including this ‘no-effect’ paper while excluding reference to the IARC classification might be considered an instance of ‘cherry-picking’.

Indeed, in her study Starkey notes that the executive summary and overall conclusions of the AGNIR report disregarded or excluded much of the evidence of harm to health from RF-EMFs (p. 493).

For example, although 78% of the studies cited on male fertility described significant adverse effects on sperm, male reproductive organs or changes in male testosterone concentrations, AGNIR’s conclusion was that there was ‘no convincing evidence that low-level exposure results in any adverse outcomes on testicular function’ (p. 495).

Starkey’s painstaking analysis of the way AGNIR’s review of the science had been conducted made clear that the report was unsuitable for determining safe public exposure levels, and her conclusion didn’t mince words: ‘Public health and the well-being of other species in the natural world cannot be protected when evidence of harm, no matter how inconvenient, is covered up’ (p. 500).

Continue reading:
https://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/mobile-phone-cover-up-govt-advisory-body-disbanded-inaccurate-and-misleading-conclusions-remain/

Annelie Fitzgerald is a member of the Safe Schools Information Technology Alliance. SSITA recently sent an open letter to Education Secretary Damian Hinds on the subject of AGNIR’s inaccurate conclusions about the safety of RF-EMF exposure, particularly as they relate to children’s health and well-being.

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