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18 March 2022

Mobi-Kids: A Fourth Expert, the Japanese Masao Taki, Also Conceals His Conflicts of Interest

Mobi-kids: A fourth expert, the Japanese Masao Taki, also conceals his conflicts of interest
Equipe Phonegate 17 Mar 2022

Masao Taki, a Japanese expert, is the fourth author of the Mobi-kids study [that analyzes the impact of wireless phones on the risk of brain tumors for young people] who has not declared his potential conflicts of interest with the mobile phone industry or his membership, until 2008, in the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

After the French expert Joe Wiart who, like four other employees, worked on the strategic core of the study for the operator Orange; after the Canadian scientist Daniel Krewski who failed to report more than 1.5 million euros in funding from the mobile phone industry; and after the Korean engineer Ae-Kyoung Lee who works directly with the organization « Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) » which is participating in the hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties generated by companies such as the smartphone manufacturer Samsung, this new breach of scientific ethics by the Japanese expert Masao Taki clearly raises the question of the transparency of the information transmitted by certain authors of the Mobi-kids study.

As a reminder: when the Mobi-kids article was published at the end of December 2021 in Environment International, the authors had “forgotten” to include the section on conflicts of interest. We understand better why!

Moreover, it is our intervention with Ms. Elisabeth Cardis, coordinator of the study, which allowed rectification of this serious lack of transparency (read our press release on the Phonegate Alert website).

Indeed, it appears quite obvious that Mr. Masao Taki should also be listed in the conflicts of interest section. This was in fact made no secret in a previous publication devoted to the Mobi-kids study, in the epidemiology journal Frontiers in Public Health dated September 2014 and signed by the same authors. It stated:

“Masao Taki’s department received a grant to support numerical modeling under a university-industry partnership.”

This conflict of interest simply disappeared in the article published at the end of 2021. We have, however, found the explanation, and it would still be the industrialist Orange (formerly France Télécom) that we find at the maneuver through its subsidiary Whist Lab (joint laboratory of the Institut Mines-Télécom and Orange).

In fact, it would seem that it is this “university-industry partnership” that would have financed the work of Prof. Masao Taki, as shown by the “complete” conflict of interest declaration in this article dedicated to the Mobi-kids study published in 2013:

« Prof. Masao Taki’s department received a grant to support numerical modeling work under a university-industry partnership. Whist Lab is funded by France Telecom. None of this funding was used to support the research described in this paper. »

In addition, Mr. Masao Taki was a member (1996-2008) of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), a pseudo-independent body that established guidelines for protection against non-ionizing radiation. He was also Chairman of the ICNIRP SCIII Commission from 2004 to 2008.

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