Australian mobile phone research stymied

Dr Pamela Sykes has failed to obtain funding to proceed with a study on mobile phone radiation. A pilot program conducted by Sykes found that transgenic mice exposed for 25 days to periods of radiation at 900 MHz (such as is emitted by digital mobile phones) showed significant changes to DNA. While Sykes had hypothesised that the exposure would increase the number of DNA breaks, the pilot in fact found that there was a protective effect. This result does not mean, however, that mobile phone radiation is a health-aid. On the contrary, the fact that it affects genes at all is extremely important and, according to Sykes, indicates that the radiation “may also play a role in tumour formation”. The National Health and Medical Research Council refused to finance the follow-up study on the basis that the pilot had not confirmed Sykes’ hypothesis. Its decision has cast some doubt on the impartiality of the relevant committee on which Motorola’s Ken Joyner is a participating advisor.

“The Government has a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the scientific research effort in this area, not just because the research is paid for by public money but primarily in the interests of public health. The drive for knowledge in this area must be open and concerned solely with scientific truth, unaffected by commercial considerations of the mobile phone industry.”

(Editorial, Sydney Morning Herald, 18.12.00.)

EMRAA News June 2001, Vol 6 No 2