Scientists Sue FCC for Dismissing Studies Linking Cell Phone Radiation to Cancer

3 days ago 4

Some more background on why the FCC might be reluctant to update their guidelines.

https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/how-big-wireless-made-us-think-that-cell-phones-are-safe-a-special-investigation/

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The FCC has granted the industry’s wishes so often that it qualifies as a “captured agency,” argued journalist Norm Alster in a report that Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics published in 2015. The FCC allows cell-phone manufacturers to self-report SAR levels, and does not independently test industry claims or require manufacturers to display the SAR level on a phone’s packaging. “Industry controls the FCC through a soup-to-nuts stranglehold that extends from its well-placed campaign spending in Congress through its control of the FCC’s congressional oversight committees to its persistent agency lobbying,” Alster wrote. He also quoted the CTIA website praising the FCC for “its light regulatory touch.”

The revolving-door syndrome that characterizes so many industries and federal agencies reinforces the close relationship between the wireless industry and the FCC. Just as Tom Wheeler went from running the CTIA (1992– 2004) to chairing the FCC (2013–2017), Meredith Atwell Baker went from FCC commissioner (2009–2011) to the presidency of the CTIA (2014 through today). To ensure its access on Capitol Hill, the wireless industry made $26 million in campaign contributions in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, and spent $87 million on lobbying in 2017.

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Central to keeping the scientific argument going is making it appear that not all scientists agree. Again like the tobacco and fossil-fuel industries, the wireless industry has “war gamed” science, as a Motorola internal memo in 1994 phrased it. War-gaming science involves playing offense as well as defense: funding studies friendly to the industry while attacking studies that raise questions; placing industry-friendly experts on advisory bodies like the World Health Organization; and seeking to discredit scientists whose views depart from the industry’s.

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A closer look reveals the industry’s sleight of hand. When Henry Lai, the professor whom Carlo tried to get fired, analyzed 326 safety-related studies completed between 1990 and 2005, he learned that 56 percent found a biological effect from cell-phone radiation and 44 percent did not; the scientific community apparently was split. But when Lai recategorized the studies according to their funding sources, a different picture emerged: 67 percent of the independently funded studies found a biological effect, while a mere 28 percent of the industry-funded studies did. Lai’s findings were replicated by a 2007 analysis in Environmental Health Perspectives that concluded industry-funded studies were two and a half times less likely than independent studies to find a health effect.

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