One of the notable features of much of the coverage of 5G in the mainstream media in both New Zealand and overseas is the amount of misinformation and telco industry propaganda being promulgated as “news”.

A particularly egregious example of this was the TV1 news on channel on the day that Vodafone announced that it planned launch of 5G in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown in November 2019. The 5G related segment on the 6 PM new was effectively an extended advertisement for the technology.

Also of recent note was an interview conducted by veteran journalist John Campbell of PR guy Paul Brislen.  Mr. Brislen is the former head of corporate communications for Vodafone, which was acknowledged in the interview.  However, what was not stated was that Paul Brislen now runs his own PR company – and 2Degrees, which also wants to build a 5G network – is one of its clients. [1]

During the interview, Paul Brislen made a number of highly debateable statements including saying that: “Not one has found any link between [?] and kind of health impacts what so ever and cell phones or WiFi or television or radio signals of any type” and that there “isn’t any link” between cellular phones and brain tumours or brain cancers.  [2]

John Campbell did not challenge any of these statements – despite having interviewed Dr. George Carlo in 2006 about the cancer risks of cellular phones.

See: Dr. George Carlo EMF Cell Phone Dangers Interview

Print media has not been exempt from dishing out pro-wireless industry propaganda under the guise of news.

One such example of that was an article in the New York Times [2], titled, “The 5G Health Hazard That Isn’t”, July 16, 2019. [3]     

Written by William Broad (who had a good reputation as a science writer) the article attempts to dismiss the justified concerns about the potential health impacts of 5G as “Russian propaganda”.

Broad’s article was debunked by Dr. Devra Davis in an article in Medium.com titled “The Miseducation of America on 5G: The New York Times Gets It Spectacularly Wrong” which you may read here: https://medium.com/@devradavis/ten-corrections-to-william-j-78094d3c1aee

In retrospect it appears that the inspiration for Broad’s New York Times (NYT) piece may have been a “collaboration”  between the NYT and Verizon in which Verizon was providing ‘support” to launch “a new journalism 5G lab at the New York Times”. [4]  (Verizon is one of the telecommunications companies which is in the process of building a 5G network in the USA – and, like other companies deploying 5G in the USA, is battling considerable public opposition [5], so a “collaboration” with the NYT, which has long marketed itself as “the paper of record”, is obviously a public relations coup for the telecommunications company.)

https://www.5g.org.nz/2019/08/23/boycott-5g/

Not to be outdone by the USA, some British journalists have also inadvertently (or intentionally?) helped their country’s wireless industry promote 5G.  One such example is the article “How baseless fears over 5G rollout created a health scare” in The Guardian, July 26, 2019.

It, too has been debunked by Dr. Devra Davis in an article available here: https://medium.com/@devradavis/the-miseducation-of-britain-on-5g-the-guardian-also-gets-it-spectacularly-wrong-f2b31733e90d

Australia has had its unfair share of misinformation in the mainstream media, with someone called “Dr. Karl” having reportedly stated that concerns about 5G are “hysteria”.   An article debunking this nonsensical claim may be read here: https://www.orsaa.org/blog-updates/dr-karl-misleading-and-wrong-information-and-a-much-deeper-problem-in-the-selection-of-experts

Two New Zealand print magazines publications also have given Big Wireless in NZ a free ride in their pieces about 5G.

The Listener recently ran a piece titled “5G cell towers are provoking opposition, despite lack of evidence”, which is debunked at the following link: https://www.5g.org.nz/2019/09/09/should-you-listen-to-the-listener-about-5g/

Sadly, Consumer magazine has gotten in on the act with relation to pushing 5G, in an article called “Why 5G isn’t a health hazard” [6] which essentially provides false reassurance to readers, as explained in a debunk of the article on the new blog Wireless Limit.

The NZ Herald has not held itself above running articles on 5G that contain inaccurate information in relation to cellular phones and 5G, such as a piece by “Nanogirl” that has been debunked at this link: https://www.5g.org.nz/2019/06/08/nanogirl-says-you-dont-need-to-worry-about-health-effects-from-5g-should-you-believe-her/ )

In a recent article titled “There’s no evidence 5G is going to harm our health, so let’s stop worrying” [7], online offering Noted.co.nz (which is owned by Bauer media and appears to be a promotional tool for the magazines North and South and The Listener) the author has similarly dished up scientifically inaccurate statements such as a claim that non ionising radiation “doesn’t damage DNA”. 

That’s false, actually, because non ionising radiation can damage DNA. [8]  However, most readers will not know this and are likely to assume that the writer knows what she’s writing about.

The article also makes the following claim in relation to levels of non ionising radiation from cellular phone infrastructure.

“Importantly, the safety limits are set well below levels known to cause harm.”

False again.  (The “safety” levels for cellular phone infrastructure are designed to prevent thermal injury (aka burns) and electric shocks – not the multitude of other unpleasant and in some cases dangerous adverse effects that may occur from being exposed to pulsed microwave radiation. See: https://www.5g.org.nz/2018/10/09/5g-in-nz-the-legal-and-regulatory-situation/ )

The author continues by stating that in relation to “electromagnetic energy associated with telecommunications” there is “no evidence of harm from such electromagnetic energy”. 

False again.  (Just living close to cellular phone infrastructure has been linked to DNA damage and increased cancer risk:  https://www.avaate.org/IMG/pdf/ESTUDIO_BRASIL_BrazilCellTowerStudy.pdf )

The author of the piece on noted.co.nz then has the temerity to suggest that people who are working on the 5G campaign (who want to protect the public from being exposed to more potentially carcinogenic radiation) may be harming public health by increasing people’s anxiety levels.

You’ve got to wonder about the motivation of people such as the writer of the article in noted.co.nz, who persist in perpetuating dangerous myths.

Myths such as non ionising radiation “doesn’t damage DNA” are harmful to public health because they encourage people to be cavalier about the use of mobile phones and therefore put themselves at risk of becoming ill from prolonged exposure to the radiation produced by these devices. 

There is plenty of publicly available scientific literature showing that non ionising radiation can indeed damage DNA and that the use of cellular phones has been linked to serious health problems, including cancer.

People who write for websites, newspapers and magazines that will be read by many thousands of people have an obligation to check their facts and make sure that they are providing their readers with accurate information.

It is troubling that so many writers for mainstream publications do not seem to be doing this. 

You have to ask yourself why?

Are they lazy?  Are they unaware of the existence of PubMed where they can easily check reputable scientific research?  

Or are they intentionally deceiving the public?

References:

[1] https://www.5g.org.nz/2019/05/25/would-you-take-advice-about-the-health-risk-of-cellphones-from-someone-who-works-for-a-telecommunications-company/

[2] A link to the interview between John Campbell and Paul Brislen (and further information about other recent 5G-related interviews)  may be accessed via this link: https://wirelesslimit.wordpress.com/2009/06/23/facebook-com-5gfreenewzealand/

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/16/science/5g-cellphones-wireless-cancer.html

[4] https://www.verizon.com/about/news/hans-vestberg-keynotes-2019-consumer-electronics-show

[5] https://www.americansforresponsibletech.org/about

[6] https://www.consumer.org.nz/articles/why-5g-isn-t-a-health-hazard

[7] https://www.noted.co.nz/tech/tech-tech/theres-no-evidence-5g-is-going-to-harm-our-health-so-lets-stop-worrying

[8] As one example: Rats that were exposed to non ionising radiation (at frequencies used in the 2G, 3G and 4G cellular phone systems in NZ) were found to have increased oxidative stress and DNA damage in their brains compared to rats that did not have this exposure.

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