The Anti-Precautionary Principle Lobby at Work… Again…

Year 2003

Louis Slesin, editor of the Microwave News, reported that in the spring of 2003, then the WHO’s EMF Project leaders, Mike Repacholi and Leeka Kheifets announced “that “there is “sufficient evidence” to apply the precautionary principle to both power-frequency and high-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs)” (See link to MWN).

Soon after, the announcement concerning precautionary approach was removed from the WHO EMF Project’s site.

Someone was afraid of the Precautionary Principle and the precautionary approach.

Year 2014

As written by Joel Moskowitz in one of his e-mail messages and press releases:

On June 9th of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised the three-year old “Frequently Asked Questions about Cell Phones and Your Health,” on its web site.

A week ago we issued a press release commending CDC for advising the public about the need for caution regarding cell phone radiation exposure, especially among children (“CDC Issues Precautionary Health Warnings about Cell Phone Radiation”; 8/13/2014; http://www.prlog.org/12359483).”

Today [August 21, 2014; date added by BRHP], the CDC updated the FAQs and removed the precautionary advice it published ten weeks earlier…”

Knowing how much administrative oversight CDC typically provides its media relations unit, we doubt that the CDC’s new policy statements were simply a mistake. What influenced CDC to retract its June 9th policy statements on cell phone use? Following are the responses that CDC altered to three of the questions in its cell phone FAQs (http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/cell_phones._FAQ.html)”

Someone is still afraid of the Precautionary Principle and the precautionary approach.

What is so scary about Precautionary Principle and the precautionary approach when handling EMF health issues?

Here is a quote from the interview with George Carlo for the LE Magazine in 2007 (George Carlo interview LE-PAGEID-115005) that might explain the reasons for the industry’s fear of the Precautionary Principle and the precautionary approach:

“…The cellular phone industry was born in the early 1980s, when communications technology that had been developed for the Department of Defense was put into commerce by companies focusing on profits. This group, with big ideas but limited resources, pressured government regulatory agencies—particularly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—to allow cell phones to be sold without pre-market testing. The rationale, known as the “low power exclusion,” distinguished cell phones from dangerous microwave ovens based on the amount of power used to push the microwaves. At that time, the only health effect seen from microwaves involved high power strong enough to heat human tissue. The pressure worked, and cell phones were exempted from any type of regulatory oversight, an exemption that continues today. An eager public grabbed up the cell phones, but according to Dr. George Carlo, “Those phones were slowly prompting a host of health problems.”…”

What, the invoking of the EU Precautionary Principle, might mean for the industry?

Something very daunting: governmental authorities might formally require that the industry pays for the research, designed to provide evidence that cell phone technology is safe. This what was not done before putting these devices on the market might be required – the proof of safety.

Excerpts from the EU document on the Precautionary Principle:

“…Decision-makers need to be aware of the degree of uncertainty attached to the results of the evaluation of the available scientific information. Judging what is an “acceptable” level of risk for society is an eminently political responsibility. Decision-makers faced with an unacceptable risk, scientific uncertainty and public concerns have a duty to find answers. Therefore, all these factors have to be taken into consideration.
In some cases, the right answer may be not to act or at least not to introduce a binding legal measure. A wide range of initiatives is available in the case of action, going from a legally binding measure to a research project or a recommendation…”

“…Assigning responsibility for producing scientific evidence is already a common consequence of these measures. Countries that impose a prior approval (marketing authorisation) requirement on products that they deem dangerous a priori reverse the burden of proving injury, by treating them as dangerous unless and until businesses do the scientific work necessary to demonstrate that they are safe.
Where there is no prior authorisation procedure, it may be up to the user or to public authorities to demonstrate the nature of a danger and the level of risk of a product or process. In such cases, a specific precautionary measure might be taken to place the burden of proof upon the producer, manufacturer or importer, but this cannot be made a general rule…

“…6.4. The burden of proof
Community rules and those of many third countries enshrine the principle of prior approval (positive list) before the placing on the market of certain products, such as drugs, pesticides or food additives. This is one way of applying the precautionary principle, by shifting responsibility for producing scientific evidence. This applies in particular to substances deemed “a priori” hazardous or which are potentially hazardous at a certain level of absorption. In this case the legislator, by way of precaution, has clearly reversed the burden of proof by requiring that the substances be deemed hazardous until proven otherwise. Hence it is up to the business community to carry out the scientific work needed to evaluate the risk. [underline BRHP] As long as the human health risk cannot be evaluated with sufficient certainty, the legislator is not legally entitled to authorise use of the substance, unless exceptionally for test purposes…”

And, finally, the “scary” sentence in the EU document, highlighted there by bold font and frame around it, which means that if governments see cell phone radiation as potentially hazardous and requiring precautionary approach or implementation of the Precautionary Principle then, the governments might as someone to pay the bill:

Measures based on the precautionary principle may assign responsibility for producing the scientific evidence necessary for a comprehensive risk evaluation.

It is possibly safe to to assume that, the always short of money governments, will point  towards the industry to pay for the research on safety of the product the industry is profiting from… Dent to the profitability and.. what if the cell phone technology’s safety is not as certain as, thus far, users were and are made to understand?

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One thought on “The Anti-Precautionary Principle Lobby at Work… Again…

  1. Pingback: Dr. George Carlo : former cellphone industry scientist | EMRSA

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