Astounded by article

Cliff Court, Tokai

It is astounding that one week after the Constantiaberg Bulletin publishes comprehensive, incontrovertible evidence from global health authorities, academic papers and basic physics that cell masts do not pose health risks (“Engineers argue that EMR radiation is safe”, September 1), you choose to make your next cover story one that gives credence to complete falsehoods on the matter by Earthlife Africa’s local representative (“Call to curb cell masts,” September 8).

Having read Mr Lakhani’s claimed evidence on cell mast health risks, it was a trivial exercise to find the multiple flaws within it.

As reported in the previous week’s article, both Earthlife Africa and EMRSA use the BioInitiative Report as the centrepiece of their claims. This report has been discredited by the health authorities of the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Australia as completely unscientific. This applies equally to their other claimed evidence as well. Yet this is the fourth time your newspaper has given them an unfettered platform to spread these falsehoods.

Your reporter chose to mention three other Bulletin articles regarding cell masts, all claiming health concerns, without referencing your most recent article on the matter, which is the only one that has actually provided hard facts that show the exact opposite.

Your article repeats the false assertion that EHS is a condition which causes people to be sensitive to electromagnetic frequencies, when your newspaper has been provided with multiple academic papers concluding that symptoms attributed to EHS have been proven not to be caused by EMF exposure, and the World Health Organisation has said, “EHS is not a medical diagnosis”.

The effect of your newspaper continually spreading these falsehoods about health concerns from cell masts is evident in your article. These claims terrify communities, who have not taken time to investigate the matter in detail.

The poor lady who travelled all the way from Mitchell’s Plain and who was in tears because she feared cell masts would worsen her autistic child’s condition is direct evidence of how ill-informed, now-front-page articles such as your latest one can cause personal anxiety, when none should be present.

This is the fourth time you have given significant space in your Bulletin to this same set of misinformed people and groups, plus several of their letters. It indicates an unhealthy bias by your paper, which is unnecessarily alarming the communities you serve.

When the overwhelming governmental, academic and pure scientific evidence shows no health risks associated with cell masts erected in line with the City’s standards, it is irresponsible of the Bulletin to give continuous high levels of exposure to people and organisations who spread such falsehoods, thereby instilling such unwarranted fear in our communities.

There is nothing wrong with the Bulletin covering a community

meeting, but journalistic ethics and professionalism oblige your reporters to also provide the counter-argument to the outlandish claims made at this meeting, especially when such detailed evidence to the contrary has already been provided to your paper in copious detail and reported on, just one week earlier.

I believe the Bulletin owes its readers as apology, and, should you choose to publish any further claims by these anti cell-mast people or groups, I suggest you always attach a rider to the article indicating that health authorities around the world universally disagree with their claims. Please stop entrenching falsehoods, thereby causing more harm than good.

Muna Lakhani, Earthlife, responds:

It is normal for people who make their living by this technology to dismiss, demean and demonise people who may challenge their livelihood. Besides the information Mr Court refers to, there is a body of evidence, not only to support EHS, but many other health impacts.

When one does an analysis of research done, the evidence comes down roughly 50/50 in favour or against. But when we look at non-industry linked research, most of it confirms the health impacts, as found by renowned scientist Henry Lai, who said: “When you look at the non-industry sponsored research, it’s about three to one – three out of every four papers shows an effect,” Lai says. “Then, if you look at the industry-funded research, it’s almost opposite – only one out of every four papers shows an effect.”

Everyone, scientist or not, who points this out is attacked by apologists for the industry concerned. Here is evidence of the attacks against Dr Lai, and how Motorola’s corporate communications departments demonstrate how they “sufficiently wargamed the Lai-Singh issue” (discrediting Dr Lai’s valuable research on EMR and cancer): http://www.seattlemag.com/article/nerd-report/nerd-report

I think we can safely say that those who have no vested interest in the industry,such as Earthlife Africa and EMRSA, can be trusted more than those who do.

And to make a small correction – the person from Mitchell’s Plain spoke about her own health as well as concern for her daughter. It is a heartless person who would deny the very real impact on an articulate mother, as well as others, including academics, who are negatively impacted by EHS.

The EMRSA has published a full response to the pro- article mentioned at http://www.emrsa.co.za/engineers-argue-that-emr-radiation-is-safe/, if people wish to inform themselves in detail. Earthlife Africa, and I am sure your many readers, support your unfettered constitutional right to publish what you will, without fear or favour and urge you to resist calls to support any vested interests.