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The Mobile Industry’s Big Dilemma

February 28th, 2010

In the mid-1990s, studies began to appear that pointed to cell phone radiation frequencies altering human DNA and disrupting the electrical signals in the brain. Articles such as these began appearing as far back as 15 years ago, just about the time that the WaveShield was developed. (We’ve been on this issue for a long time.)

Back then, it was much less commonplace to see someone talking on a cell phone. (By the way, those old phones were MUCH more dangerous than today’s phones. There was less network coverage, so the phones pumped out more radiation to carry the signal to more distant relay towers.)

Since then, the mobile industry has done two things to keep itself floating above the fray of the cell phone radiation debate. The first thing they did is ignore the issue. They don’t talk about it unless they have to, which until recently was never.

There have been interviews with industry specialists here and there over the years, but nothing much in the way of real substance. In fact, it’s only been in the last couple years that the issue has grown strong enough to force the industry to actively defend itself. A recent documentary called ‘Cell Phone War,’ which you can see in our videos section, features a number of interviews with industry honchos and spokespeople defending their products and denying the dangers they present to their users. Additional coverage has surfaced when the first Federal hearings on cell phone radiation dangers were held last fall by a Congressional Subcommittee, which included testimony from an industry rep, who repeatedly denied that phone manufacturers were doing anything dangerous with their products. To be fair, the industry rep cited existing rules on radiation emissions for cell phones, which are dangerously high, and stated that manufacturers abide by these rules. Well, sure, but that doesn’t mean cell phones are safe. It means the laws need to be changed, and I imagine that is what the industry wants not to happen.

Mostly though, the industry just puts its fingers in its ears and runs yelling back to their production plants. Without the demands of consumer advocacy and increased media coverage, it seems like they would be happy to continue doing this forever.

The second thing the mobile industry has done to deflect attention from the issue is corrupt the science and lobby as hard as they can to keep the issue neutralized. Industry whistleblowers like Dr. George Carlo have shown the extent to which studies on cell phone radiation have been suppressed, data misinterpreted, and industry officials have deliberately lied about research findings. This has been going on for years. That is why whenever we read a study about cell phone radiation, we check to see who sponsored the study: who’s paying the scientists to report their ‘findings.’ If a cell phone manufacturer or an industry group sponsored the study, there’s a very good chance they’ll find ‘no evidence whatsoever’ that cell phone radiation is dangerous. This is not always the caseā€¦but most of the time it is.

The mobile phone lobby is huge in the United States. After all, it is a multibillion-dollar industry. They have the money to spend. So of course, things will generally go their way, and they have for many years, without any noticeable opposition, until just recently.

The problem that the mobile industry now faces started over a decade ago, when the first reports of cell phone radiation and links to DNA damage and cancer were published in journals and newspapers. At this point, they had a choice: they could either address the issue and adapt their products to solve the problem, or they could undermine the issue and do whatever they could to keep people in the dark. Obviously, they chose the second option, and now they are finding that the past is catching up to them.

The industry could, if it wanted to, stand up tomorrow and announce to the world that it is going to dramatically reduce the levels of radiation emitted from their cell phones. It’s not a matter of logistics here; these modifications would be very, very easy to put in place. The problem is that the public would immediately realize that the manufacturers have not been doing this all along, and that would make them mad, distrusting, and in many cases opportunistic. An announcement such as this would open the gates to many serious problems for the manufacturers and the industry as a whole. Class action lawsuits, injury settlements, expensive lawyers, big payoffs, costly modifications to their manufacturing practices. They look at these options with understandable reluctance.

Their other option is to keep lobbying, keep denying, keep doing what they’re doing, and wait until they’re compelled to act, if they ever are. And even then, stay quiet about it and let the storm pass as legislation forces them to change their ways. This seems to be what they’re doing. It’s much easier to buy off a few politicians then it is to fight back against millions of people in a popular consumer movement. The high fructose corn syrup television ads come to mind: they were just pathetic - and they didn’t work, because after a year or two, millions of people are more suspicious than ever about using high fructose corn syrup.

The mobile phone industry knows this: try to discount a popular idea and you’ll only confirm it and bring more attention to it. They don’t want that, so they’re going to lobby the legislators and bring in specialists to serve up quack science on a golden platter. It’s been working for them so far, and they don’t really have any other appealing options.

If the mobile industry was responsible, they would have launched their products on the right foot and addressed this issue when it first arose over a decade ago. By tucking tail and undermining the facts of the matter, they have now found the past has caught up to them, and they are now swimming in a bigger pond than they were when they started. In time, this issue could very well go the way of Big Tobacco, with mobile manufacturers paying out of their ears to families of children with brain tumors and widows whose spouses passed on from kidney cancer.

They may rightly assume that even now, their window to come clean with the public and sustain a level of trust with consumers has passed them by. Only time will tell.  



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