On 11 December, the Belgian federal Parliament hosted a hearing regarding the challenges for the Belgian rollout of 5G, the most advanced mobile technology. One of the most important issues there were radiation standards.
The regional government of Flanders has decidedly opted in favour of a quick rollout, in order to fully enjoy the opportunities of this new technology. The governments of Brussels and Wallonia have however decided, under pressure from green party Ecolo, to once again conduct a number of studies on possible impact to health.
Well-known anti-cancer campaign group Kom op tegen Kanker and environmental NGO Bond Beter Leefmilieu were invited but have not taken part. Apparently they do not want be associated with the fake health arguments pushed for by the greens and others.
At the hearing, the speakers delegated by telecom regulator BIPT, consumer organisation Test Aankoop and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) were very clear: as long as the international standard of prudence (4.5 W/m²) is respected, there is no causal link between radiation and health. To be clear: the current standards in Belgium are 10 (Flanders), 25 (Wallonia) and even 50 (Brussels) times lower. These therefore need to be increased, so to deal with the explosive growth of mobile data as well as to enable 5G.
The position of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which also had an expert speaking at the hearing, is of the utmost importance. ICNIRP is composed of a group independent experts and is part of the World Health Organisation, which is linked to the United Nations.
That’s the same institution which also hosts the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). While the green party (rightly) considers IPCC as the saviour which draws conclusions based on scientific evidence, it doubts the expertise of ICNIRP at the same time.
The greens were in bad populist company. Also the far right Vlaams Belang, the far left PTB and Défi, which defends French-speakers’ interests, all picked science deniers as experts to speak at the hearing. All of the arguments made by these were professionally countered by the speakers of consumer organisation Test Aankoop and of ICNIRP.
Haven’t we then witnessed more brain tumours since mobile phones are being used?
It’s correct that there is a small increase in brain tumours. This trend was however already ongoing before the mobile phone was introduced. A simple explanation is that people reach a higher age.
Is it correct that there are 300.000 electrosensitive people in Belgium?
Scientifically speaking, this is not a recognised disease, so no data are being kept on this, which means that this figure has no serious factual basis whatsoever. Instead we may be talking about a psychosomatic phenomenon, whereby any causal link is however lacking.
Did 250 scientists then not sign a petition warning for radiation norms?
That’s correct, but most of these scientists are no expert in radiation standards, as opposed to the ICNIRP specialists.
Finally, all kinds of studies were being cited that would prove that health issues are being caused. There are effectively a few marginal voices in this debat, which is also the case in the climate debate. Just as with climate change, we therefore better follow the scientific consensus.
When will the green movement be sufficiently courageous to follow this logic? And when will it abandon its bias which now results in only accepting research results that prove its preferred outcome?
It’s getting high time that the green movement abandons populism which ruthlessly exploits an unjustified concern among citizens. This is precisely what it accuses others of when it comes to other issues.
This text is a translation of “Groen en Ecolo zijn selectief blind voor wetenschappelijke bewijzen“, initially published in Dutch, on 27/12/19
This post is also available in: DE (DE)