Thursday, 24 April 2014 – 7:10am IST | Agency: DNA
The global community advocating the harms of cell phones is up in arms against author Dr Siddhartha Mukherjee for making allegedly baseless comments on how mobile phone radiation is not related to cancer.
Devra Davis, a US Presidential appointee for studying environmental health and disease prevention and also the founding member of Centre of Environment Oncology, has criticised Mukherjee for making the comments in a talk hosted by the Cellphone Operators Association of India (COAI) in New Delhi on April 21.
“Mukherjee has no training or expertise in bioelectromagnetics or epidemiology. And his call for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to take the unprecedented step of delisting something that experts unanimously with one exception voted was a possible human carcinogen has clearly been sponsored by the telecom industry, which also sponsored his trip to India to give these talks,” said Davis who heads the US-based Environmental Health Trust.
Davis added that there are many peer-reviewed publications that dispute Mukherjee’s views. In addition, and very importantly, he completely ignores the growing evidence that cell phone radiation causes damage to the reproductive health of both men and women as well as damages the nervous system, she said.
Interestingly, in the past, Mukherjee has openly admired Davis’s work and presented her with a signed note, which read “To Devra, Keep up your brave work -An Admirer”. Davis has authored the book Disconnect — The truth about cell phone radiation, what the industry is doing to hide it and how to protect your family.
“Why is Mukherjee now saying there’s no link between cell phone radiation and cancer? He’s ignoring the recommendations of scientists and researchers today who advise against cell phone overuse,” said Davis.
While Mukherjee’s biography of cancer, The Emperor of all Maladies, was published in 2010 and he received a Pulitzer Prize for it in April 2011, activists argue that WHO, on the basis of extensive research, classified cell phones and their electromagnetic field radiation as a possible carcinogen in May 2011.
“The Indian government, following this, published warnings in newspapers advising citizens to use wired landlines instead of cell phones, given a choice. How can it now decide, out of the blue, to award Padmashri to Mukherjee in 2014 for his work that got published four years ago?” questioned Prakash Munshi, a city-based activist.
Mukherjee, in the COAI-sponsored talk on April 21, had also said that WHO should remove cell phone radiation from its list of possible carcinogens.
“On what basis is one man contesting WHO guidelines and ignoring subsequent actions of the Indian government to revise radiation guidelines?” asked Munshi.
In 2011, WHO had classified radiation from mobile phones as a possible cancer risk, based on the opinion of an expert group from its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)
The Indian government, later, appointed an inter-ministerial committee who pointed to the possible health risks posed by mobile phones and towers
It was then decided to lower the level of radiation emitted by cell phone towers to a 10th of the prevailing standard — from 9.2 to 0.92 watts per sqm
The COAI has constantly opposed the idea and, in the past, got physicians from IMA to say that there is no link between cancer and cell phone radiation despite the evidence pointing to the contrary, allege activists