The FDA, Wireless Industry Deception and Cell Phone Radiation: A Deep Dive Time Line – Environmental Health Trust


The following timeline is reposted from Science Corruption.

1992 Feb 4: The Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which had many biological scientists but only a few staff radio engineers at its Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH), began to get concerned about the proliferation of cellphones and the lack of industry research into possible health effects.

The possibility of another tobacco-type health scandal was openly being discussed, and a closed Congressional hearing was held to develop regulations, and recommend further studies of electromagnetic field (EMF) health effects.

The Committee promoted the idea of moderation in phone use until more was known, while an FDA paper, dated Feb 4 1992, suggested that…

“those who spend long periods of time on their hand-held cellular phones could consider holding lengthy conversations on conventional phones and reserving the hand-held cellular models for shorter conversations…”

Many studies had been sponsored by industry, academic institutions, government laboratories and by military research organizations into the effects of low levels of electromagnetic radiation. The constant problem in the debate of risks is the limited knowledge about the fact that very specific fields interacting with our bodies can in fact have significant effects on our health.

These effects vary throughout populations with some effected to a greater degree than others. This is related to our physical and biochemical differences. The research which is being conducted by the industry is ignoring much of what has already appeared in the literature regarding risk factors.

1992 Apr 8: Susan Reynard of Madeira Beech, began a Florida Circuit Court lawsuit against cellphone companies after being diagnosed with a malignant parietal tumor of the brain in May 1990. She had used an NEC cellular phone for two years prior to the diagnosis. [The South Florida Sun-Sentinel later published a story about the lawsuit which kick-started the 1993 cellphone furore.]

After her death, her husband David Reynard continued the case. This was the first litigation in relation to cellphones (earlier suits had been over the military and police use of microwave radar)

1992 May: Microwave News, a highly respected independent newsletter which dealt with the possible health effects of all forms of EMFs from mains-power to radio-waves (edited by Louis Slessin since the 1980s) reported on the Reynard case. Until 1993, the newsletter had dealt mainly with the potential for power-lines and related ELF problems, and with EMF-related cases over broadcast towers and microwaves from military and police radar.

However, its coverage of cellphones increased rapidly after the initial filing of the Susan Reynard case in Florida. This early reporting showed that the wording of her claim was very broad (which it needed to be) The complaint said:

“The tumor was the result of radiation emitted by a cellular telephone [or] the course of the tumor was accelerated and aggravated by the emissions from the telephone…”
Much of the evidence she might have relied on in this case was still being concealed by the US Army and Air Force. Nor did she get support from the researchers at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) even though they thought there was reason for concern.]

1993 Jan 3: The Fort Lauderdale, Florida Sun-Sentinel published a local article on the death of Susan Reynard. Every major newpaper in the USA followed up with at least one item in the following fortnight.

  • Wall Street Journal

       published a number of stories which mentioned that
  • written testimony was provided by an Australian Dr John Holt who ran a quack Microwave Therapy Center in Perth, WA
  • also by Florida neurologist David Perlmutter (who ran an alternative and complementary medicine clinic in Florida)
    [Neither was a highly credible scientific witness, and so Reynard was never able to produce substantial research evidence..]

Massachusetts Democrat Representative (later Senator) Edward Markey was championing the demands for further scientific investigation.

1993 Jan 12: CNN’s Moneyline program gave the lawsuit its first broad exposure. At the same time there was a ‘coincidental announcement that two high-profile business executives had developed brain tumors.

1993 Jan 21: The Reynard story broke nationally. Susan Reynard‘s husband David Reynard was continuing the suit against two cellular phone companies and the shop which sold the phone. He created a sensation when he appeared live on the Larry King Live TV show making his allegations.

Many newspapers took up the story, and the stocks of cellular phone companies tumbled on Wall Street. However

the Reynard case came shortly after the establishment of the so-called Daubert standards for the admissibility of scientific evidence, which followed the landmark 1993 Supreme Court ruling in Daubert v. Merrel Dow Pharmaceuticls […which sought to keep ‘junk-science” out of the courtroom — and ended up giving privileged access only to generously-funded corporate-friendly science instead.]

[Source Cellular Phones, Public Fears and a Culture of Precaution, by Adam Burgess]

[The Reynald case was still in progress in June 1993 when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on the Daubert Case. However it is extremely doubtful that Reynald would have succeeded with the available evidence to hand, anyway.]

Sensationalism of the Reynard claim.
The Washington Post later records the impact of the case:

On Jan. 21, 1993, a shock wave hit the cellular telephone industry. Appearing live on “The Larry King Show,” a Florida man named David Reynard told a nationwide audience that he was suing two cellular companies because, he said, his wife’s pocket phone had caused the brain tumor that killed her.

The enormous media attention given to the suit caused cellular stocks to tumble on Wall Street, even though it was later dismissed because of insufficient evidence. The threat of litigation also sent the $23 billion cellular industry scrambling to reassure the public that pocket phones weren’t slowly baking the brains of millions of users around the world.

And a later New York Times report explained the event in more detail:

On Jan. 21, 1993, the television talk-show host Larry King featured an unexpected guest on his program. It was the evening after Inauguration Day in Washington, and the television audience tuned in expecting political commentary. But King turned, instead, to a young man from Florida, David Reynard, who had filed a tort claim against the cellphone manufacturer NEC and the carrier GTE Mobilnet, claiming that radiation from their phones caused or accelerated the growth of a brain tumor in his wife.

“The tumor was exactly in the pattern of the antenna,” Reynard told King. In 1989, Susan Elen Reynard, then 31, was told she had a malignant astrocytoma, a brain cancer that occurs in about 6,000 adults in America each year. She died in 1992, just short of her 34th birthday. David was convinced that high doses of radiation from the cellphone was the cause.

The Florida Circuit Court that heard Reynard v. NEC was quick to discern these complexities. It empathized with David Reynard’s search for a tangible cause for his wife’s cancer. But it acknowledged that too little was known about such cases; “the uncertainty of the evidence… the speculative scientific hypotheses and [incomplete] epidemiological studies” made it impossible to untangle cause from coincidence.

David Reynard’s claim was rejected in the spring of 1995, three years after it was originally filed. What was needed, the court said, was much deeper and more comprehensive knowledge about cellphones, brain cancer and of the possible intersection of the two.

[Note that these were the old analog AMPS cellphones. It was revealed that Susan Reynard had been bed-ridden for a considerable period, and had rested the mobile on the pillow alongside her head and used it extensively.]

1993 Jan 25: The EMF Health Report published Robert B Goldberg’s “The Cellular Phone Controversy: Real or Contrived’”

In the initial days of the controversy regarding cell phones the industry developed a huge public relations effort in the face of lawsuits and adverse press reports impacting the industry.

1993 Jan 25: Motorola held a press conference.

Industry representatives remained unequivocal as they responded to questions about cellular phone safety. Dr Quirino Balzano, a vice president of the land mobile products sector of Motorola Inc., which has its headquarters in Schaumburg, IL, said at the briefing that the ” thorough and objective scientific process” that went into the creation of the current RF/MW safety guidelines, allows the industry to state with certainty that cellular phones are safe.

Edward Staiano, president of Motorola’s general systems sector, said that, “Our confidence in the safety of our products is rooted in scientific fact.” Staiano referred to “more than 40 years of research [and] more than 10,000 studies” demonstrating the safety of hand-held phones.

Microwave News commented:

The hollowness of the industry mantra became clear during Motorla’s January 25th press conference when, on questioning, the company was unable to come up with three studies that supported its position.

Essentially no studies have been done at cellular phone frequencies (800-900 MHz). But there is a growing body of work which indicates that various types of radiofrequency and microwave (RF/MW) radiation can contribute to the development of cancer. Laborarory. animal and human studies all point to a possible problem.

[This typical quote from the industry, illustrates the incredible exaggeration of the research as it related to cell phone risks in the early 1990s. You can’t prove something is safe by such research — many negative findings simply mean badly constructed research protocols or inadequate numbers of test animals.

This was the first time in human evolutionary history that large numbers of people were asked to test for adverse health effects from a device, similar to a small microwave oven, by holding them close against the side of their heads for up to a few hours each day over their life-times.

On Jan 25th, in response to journalistic requests for studies which show the cellular phones are safe, Motorola released specific references to three studies by a team under Dr Ross Adey. Ross Adey rejected their interpretation and remained a fervent critic of the industry’s lack of research until his death many years later.

See Adey email:

The industry’s ten-thousand figure, when closely examined, proved to be picked out of the air. There were only a few dozen significant studies of microwaves, and most of these were at radar power levels and exposure distances. Close to zero negative studies suggesting (not proving) relative safety dealt with cellphones themselves.

1993 Jan 26: Rep Edward Markey (D-MA) wrote to the FCC’s Thomas Stanley, asking about the current RF/MW radiation safety standard and seeking information about any research the FCC has done on cellular phone radiation. The following day he asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO — the investigative arm of Congress) to investigate cellular phone safety and the history of federal regulatory efforts.

1993 Jan 29: The CTIA reacts by announcing that it had plans for making plans.

The industry unveiled its research plan in the midst of this public relations crisis. CTlA President Thomas Wheeler told a Washington press conference.

Despite the many studies showing that cellular is safe, it has become necessary to reassure those whose doubts have been raised by this scare. It is time for truth and good science to replace emotional videotape and unsupported allegations.

Therefore, the cellular telecommunications industry is today announcing that it will fund research to re-validate the findings of the existing studies, which have found that the radiowaves from cellular phones are safe.

We recognize that some may find industry-sponsored research is suspect. Therefore, we are asking the federal government to appoint a blue-ribbon panel to review the methodology and fidings of this research.

He would not say definitively how much money the industry would provide — only that it would be “well into seven figures,” that is, more than $1million.

[This trivial response, together with an ABC 20/20 story on the same day, caused cellphone company stocks on Wall Street to tank in the following days. The CTIA immediately turned to Ketchum Public Relations for advice.]

Separately, McCaw Cellular committed $130,000 for research by Dr Om Gandhi of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, to estimate how much radiation is absorbed by the human head from the antenna of a hand-held cellular phone. The first results will be available in about six months.

[The members of the CTIA had been selling mobile phones for a few years, and they were claiming 10,000 studies which proved that they were safe — yet no one had actually tried to measure how much of the radiation was being absorbed by the head. All these announcements did was to illustrate how callous and out-of-touch the industry big-wigs were.]

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) project for a general brain-tumor studyunder the direction of Dr Richard Adamson, was still in the planning stages.
[Brain cancer rates had been growing at what seemed like an alarming rate. The coincidence of these higher-rates and the proliferation of cellphones, produced the appearance of what was probably a spurious causal connection, since tumors of this kind usually have a 10 year incubation period.]

United Kingdom Research
The UK government promoted the idea that they were taking the problem seriously.

Dr Camelia Gabriel of Kings College, London (later a dosimetric consultant with Microwave Consultants), was in charge of the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) project for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) entitled “Interaction of the Body with Radio Emissions from Hand-Held Transceivers” in mid 1992.

Details was treated as confidential in 1993. However, Gabriel was only looking at testing methods, using ‘phantoms’ (dummy heads). Her inconsequential study appears to have only been released in 1997. The deception lay in the DTI treating a simple dosimetrics study, as if it were a major health study.

1993 Feb: The Florida lawsuit begins, with Reynard suing the cellular telephone companies (NEC and GTE) over his wife’s fatal brain tumour.

In early 1993, the hypothesis that radiation from cellular telephones might be causally related to brain cancer in users was first advanced in a Florida lawsuit. Officials from industry and government agreed on the need for additional research.

[Source: Carlo speech in 1995] [In fact a number of previous cases had advanced the same hypothesis about microwave, and a number of previous studies had shown that causal mechanism might exist.]

1993 Feb: Lorraine Thelian, Executive Vice President and Director of the Washington office of Ketchum Communications [A subsidiary of Ketchum Public Relations — hereafter just ‘Ketchum’] had been given the task of finding solution to what the CTIA believed was just a public relations problem. Ketchum promotes iteslf as:

Ketchum is “a public relations and marketing agency which specializes in corporate and product positioning.” Case studies on the company’s Web site include work for BP Amoco, British Telecom, Nokia, Dow Chemical, Esso, ITT Industries, and American Dairy Brands..

Ketchum recommended contracting a suitable ‘independent’ science-for-sale entrepreneur to head a small “Scientific Advisory Group (SAG)” which would run a quick-and-dirty literature review to counter the cellphone health claims aired on the Larry King Show.

She then found Dr George Carlo (probably through John Graham and/or Matt Swetonic). At the time, Carlo was also working on the Dow Chemicals/dioxin “Flying Circus” (initiated by Ketchum, but run by Swetonic at E Bruce Harrison Co. (EBH))

  • a budget of $ 1 to $2 million.
  • hire three scientists who would form a Scientific Advisory Group (SAG)
  • The SAG would look at the published literature on potential harm from electro-magnetic frequencies (EMF) and make a public statement exonerating microwaves.
  • their efforts would be supported by a Peer Review Board comprising a half-dozen independent scientists who would provide credibility to the SAG pronouncements.
  • a well-funded public relations program would then announce to the world that cellphones were safe.

They also recommended that the CTIA should demonstrated its socially responsiblity and ethical standing by establishing an entirely altruistic CTIA Foundation to bring further joy and light into the world.

[It doesn’t seem to have occurred to the CTIA or Ketchum that radio-wave exposures are totally unlike any biomedical concern of the past, and therefore required special expertise in physics, electronic, and a range of biomedical-related disciplins even to read and understand the literature.]

1993 Feb 1: BusinessWeek, Newsweek and Time (all dated Feb 8) appear with stories about cellular phone safety.

1993 Feb 1: Tom Wheeler, the president of the Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA), hurridly put our a press release announcing that a special “blue-ribbon” panel would be formed, staffed by representatives from industry and government to oversee an unspecified “newly invigorated research project” .

[Since they were effectively starting from scratch, ‘newly invigorated’ was an overstatement. They’d only had only preliminary discussions with the FDA’s CDRH, who weren’t at all happy about being asked to just supervise research which would be under industry control.]

1993 Feb 2: Representative Edward Markey convened a Congressional briefing to consider a leaked FDA Memo by Mays Swicord and Larry Cress of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH). The memo said that microwave data ‘strongly suggests’ a cancer risk.

“Of approximately eight chronic animal experiments known to us, five resulted in increased numbers of malignancies, accelerated progression of tumors, or both,” wrote Drs. Mays Swicord and Larry Cress of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) in Rockville, MD. They also pointed to other evidence from laboratory (in vitro) studies that supported a cancer risk.

[Note that we know about this only because Microwave News published the details after getting access to it following a successful FOI appeal in 2003. However the date of this memo is April 7 1993 — a month later than the Congressional briefing; which must have been done before the letter was written.There must have been two memos.]

The Microwave News report in January 2003 published excerpts from the memo along with commentary which also reveals the extent of the Revolving Door of cellphone research:
At this briefing the CTIA also had to contend with a document prepared by Dr Elizabeth Jacobson, the CDRH’s deputy director of science who said

“Evidence exists of nonthermal and cytotoxic effects at power levels produced by cellular phones.”

And an appeal from the National Cancer Institute’s Dr Richard Admonson who was “adamantly opposed” to relying on the cellphone industry to fund and control this a research program. He had announced plans for a five year study on brain tumors that would examine cellphone links.

The Agencies were in dispute; according to the FDA’s Elizabeth Jacobson, such an NCI’s study on cellphones and brain cancer

“ignores the fact that widespread use of phones is a very recent phenomenon, and if there is any ‘latent period’ for development of tumors, a negative result will be hard to interpret.”

[Adamson later left the NCI to work as a lobbyist. He ran the Washington office of the National Soft Drink Association which worked in coalition with Philip Morris (they owned Seven-up). He later joined forces with George Carlo and Ernst Wynder in promoting the Nocebo concept.]

See Nocebo Conference

The CDRH memo
FDA’s Center for Device and Radiological Health (CDRH) memo (Microwave News paraphrasing)

In the spring of 1993 at the height of public concern over cell phone-brain tumor risks, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) biologists concluded that the available data “strongly suggest” that microwaves can “accelerate the development of cancer.”

    “Of approximately eight chronic animal experiments known to us, five resulted in increased numbers of malignancies, accelerated progression of tumors, or both,”

wrote Drs. Mays Swicord and Larry Cress of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) in Rockville, MD.

They also pointed to other evidence from laboratory (in vitro) studies that supported a cancer risk.Yet, in its public statements at that time, the agency played down these findings.

At a February 2, 1993, Congressional briefing convened by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), Swicord, together with representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Communications Commission — as well as Markey himself — all called for more research (see Microwave News, Jan/Feb 1993).

A number of former and current FDA staff members suggested that Swicord and Cress used strong language in their memo to help secure funding for their particular sphere of interest at the CDRH. Cress, however, rejected this explanation. “It was not a funding document,” he said.

[The FDA added that] a few studies suggest that [microwave] levels [from cellular phones] can accelerate the development of cancer in laboratory animals, but there is much uncertainty among scientists about whether these results apply to the use of cellular phones.”

The study which had most concerned Swicord-Cress in their April 1993 memo was the one done at the University of Washington, Seattle laboratory in 1984 for the US Air Force by Arthur (‘Bill’) Guy and CK Chou. The memo reported that this study was:

Financed by the Air Force, this well-planned and executed study was intended to examine a number of biological, behavioral and biochemical endpoints. Two groups of 100 rats each were used; the exposed group was treated with pulsed-modulated waveform for 22 hours each day over a period of two years.

Although no one type or anatomic site of tumor predominated, 18 of the exposed animals developed a malignancy of some type versus only 5 of the control animals, statistically significant at the p= 0.001 level.

In addition, 7 of the exposed animals developed “benign” pheochromocytomas versus only one of the control animals, also highly significant (p=0.02).

Although this study has been discounted by some critics because no one tumor site or target organ predominated, this is precisely what one would expect for an agent which accelerates the progression of naturally occurring malignant cells.

These results are particularly disturbing because the rate of MW energy deposition in the rats’ bodies is comparable to that of users of cellular phones and other portable communications equipment.

The study’s applicability to these devices may be questioned, however, on the grounds that the frequency is 3 times that used in cellular phones and the modulation is also different.

[However, later generations of cellphones used these higher frequencies, and had a pulse-modulated signal not unlike these radar simulations.

The study made another distinction, not always recognised by policy makers. It is possible for EMFs (or some chemical) to promote or facilitate existing cancerous cells (or pre-cancerous cells) without being the initial cause. If you combine both ’cause’ and ‘promotion’ then the Guy-Chou study was statistically significant.

  • Mays Swicord later went to work for Motorola and became a promoter of the cellphone industry line. He also played a part of the ‘War Gaming” of Drs Henry Lai and Narendra Singh. [See later] However, at this time he was seen as an industry opponent and the main competitor to Carlo and his HES in getting access to the cellular phone industry’s research dollars.
  • Arthur ‘Bill’ Guy was recruited in mid-’93 by the CTIA to join Carlo and Munro in the first Scientific Advisory Group. He also transfered to Wireless Technology Research LLC. as their part-time technical advisor (Munro and Carlo ran the operation.)
  • CK Chou received a research grant of $1.5 million from the WTR to conduct dosimetric measurements, and then joined Mays Swicord at Motorola defending the industry. Chou and Swicord moved in to the BioElectroMagnetics Society (BEMS) and virtually took it over.

1993 March – April: The CTIA officially launches the
Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) on Cellular Telephone Research.

1993 Apr: Carlo’s book “Wireless Phones and Health II: State of the Science” says that:

  • In April 1993, the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) [George Carlo, Ian Munro and Bill Guy] was established to formulate a program that was responsive to the public health risk allegations and to advise the wireless industry of such.
  • In May 1993, the SAG program of surveillance and intervention was presented to the FDA and approved in concept, with the charge of implementation given to the SAG.
    [The FDA were decidedly unhappy with the program and declined to participate.]
  • At the beginning of the program in 1993, a blue-ribbon Peer Review Board (PRB) was assembled.

[Carlo selected his old Cantox friend, the Canadian Ian Munro as his deputy, and they hired the retired Washington State University radio researcher, Bill Guy. to providing guidance — since neither Carlo or Munro had any experience in this highly-specialised EMF/RF area of biomedical research.

Guy had done real biomedical research work for the US Air Force on radar exposure — and when he retired, his laboratory at Washington University in Seattle, with its specially-built rodent exposure system was inherited by Dr Henry Lai.]

1993 Apr: The CTIA announces that it had put together a ‘Peer Review Committee’ [later called Peer Review Board (PRB] with the help of Ketchum and John Graham of the Harvard University’s Center for Risk Analysis who was on Ketchum’s Advisory Board.

It was to operate under the chairmanship of George Carlo [ie Carlo headed both the SAG and the PRB.] and it’s job would be to review all the scientific evidence of cellular telephone health problems.

The first Peer Review Board (PRB) consisted of a number of Carlo’s old associates and a couple of others hired for status and prestige. The CTIA also had advice from John Graham at the Harvard School for Public Health’s Center for Risk Assessment:

[Carlo and Munro, in their May 1992 2,4-D herbicide study for Dow Chemicals had enlisted a peer-review panel consisting of Sir Richard Doll, John Doull, Saxon Graham, Raymond Greenberg and Gary Williams.

Three of these scientists found their way onto this Cellphone EMF peer-review panel, while Raymond Greenberg became chairman of the Mains-Power ELF peer-review board being put together at the same time by the Electricity Power Research Institute (EPRI)] John Doull continued as a chemical and tobacco industry consutant

For the CTIA, Carlo, Munro and Graham had chosen

  • Sir Richard Doll — Oxford Uni, in the UK — the celebrity epidemiologist from his famous anti-tobacco research (now working secretly as a Monsanto consultant.).
  • Saxon Graham — a Professor of Epidemiology at State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo — an old Carlo mentor and associate.
  • Gary Williams — American Health Foundation. (assistant to Ernest Wynder, Carlo’s Nocebo and tobacco associate)
  • Patricia Buffler — University of California, Berkeley. A highly respected epidemiologist. However she was also a consultant to the electric utility industry (which had a related problem with 60Hz mains power) and she on the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) peer-review board. The EPRI was the equivalent of the WTR in more ways than one.
  • Philip Cole — University of Alabama at Birmingham — an old Carlo 2,4,D dioxin study associate.
    [Note there are a number of Philip Coles in the tobacco literature. This one regularly consulted to, and provided defence witness services for the electric power industry. He was also on ACSH Committtees, and worked for DowElanco.]
  • Om P Gandhi — University of Utah; An expert in EMF measurements. [Gandhi withdrew from the second panel “by mutual agreement in view of his involvement” in cellular phone research. He was the only one on this first panel who knew anything much about the matter under investigation.]
  • Donald R Justesen — University of Kansas and VA Medical Center; ‘neuropsychologist and behavioral radiologist’. He had been critical of microwaves because of the experimental effecta seen in rodent behavior (1975).
  • Richard R Monson — Harvard University Epidemiologist; also with the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis. He was involved in children’s X-ray exposures which are ‘ionizing radiation’ problems.(cellphones are ‘non-ionizing’)
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulis — Harvard School of Public Health and an old tobacco industry researcher. He was a case-hardened ‘skeptic’ of health activism, with some limited experience on workplace powerline exposure problems.
Doll & Wynder
Sadly, two of the great scientific heros of the early anti-smoking movement, Ernest Wynder and Sir Richard Doll, both occasional took generous industry commissions in their later years.

  • Wynder needed corporate money to maintain and constantly expand his American Health Foundation. He had grandiouse ideas, and became less-than-scrupulous about the sources of the money, and inattentive about the scientific rigor of AHF work.
  • Doll became an ego-maniac and rather bitter at his trivial academic income. He offered his services as a contract expert to companies willing to pay. He charged up to £35,000 for a report prepared just by reading the literature, and kept the sources of his funding secret.

See a later damning report on Doll.  

1993 Apr 26-27: The EPA ran a Radio-Frequency Radiation (RFR) Conference. with more than 200 scientists attending. Plenary papers were presented and six panels discussed various aspects of the problem. The EPA’s Summary and Result show that Margo T Oge, the Director of the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air explained:

A year ago, the Science Advisory Board (SAB) gave the Agency (EPA) recommendations in a risk document that deals with the potential health effects of EMF. At the same time there were various Congressional hearings on RF, and there was pressure put on EPA by various Congressmet to go back and finalize the guidance, And that’s why we’re here today.

Two key conclusions emerged from the conference:

  1. there is sufficient information on thermal exposure effects on which to base an RF radiation exposure standard [later rejected and disproved] and
  2. EPA should develop some type of RF radiation exposure guidelines.

They also were to develop a strategy which involved creating an interagency work group and requesting the National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP) to assess several remaining issues. [The NCRP were mainly nuclear radiation scientists] In the interim they suggested to the Federal Communications Commission that they adopt standard (from 1992) of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Institute of Elctrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE)

[The six panels at this conference had a mix of company and independent (mainly university) scientists. However George Carlo‘s name is not on any. Nor is he listed in the acknowledgements, or in the numerous study references.

However George Carlo from the Health & Environmental Sciences Group. turns up as one of the 150 attendees, which suggestst that this meeting was held before the agency was told that he was running the CTIA’s Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) — either that, or they deliberately chose to snub him.

Also in attendance was Charles Barna, from the [Tozzi/Auchter] Multinational Business Services Inc/Federal Focus Inc group (partners and associates of Carlo). and Carol Lippincott from Ketchum Public Relations (who found Carlo for the CTIA)]

1993 May 14: /E The Carlo/Schram book states:

“In mid-May 1993 Wheeler opened a meeting of his top policy and public relations advisers and his science adviser, Carlo, in the CTIA boardroom by announcing that their agenda for the session consisted of two items: One was the credibility of Carlo, and the other was the credibility of the SAG program Carlo had been appointed to run jus a month earlier.

Wheeler was concerned about “the flap in Science magazine” where Carlo had been exposed as the agent of the Chlorine Institute who distorted the consensus of the Banbury dioxin conference.

1993 May 25: The published report of a meeting between the CTIA and FDA in Cellular Business, July 1 1993, says:

At its May 25th meeting with the FDA, the CTIA Joint Review Committee reported that it had consolidated its research into the health and cellular issue under a newly formed Scientific Advisory Group.

Dr George Carlo, chairman of Health and Environmental Sciences Group, a consulting firm based in Washington, DC, and adjunct professor at George Washington University Medical School, was named chairman.

“We have turned over the research to the group in order to build a process with respected scientists and a peer review group that will assure that the conclusions have credibility,” said Ron Nessen, CTIA vice president.

Semantic confusion:
There is some confusion about the names of groups in this chain of events, and there’s been some back-dating and historical revision of the records (where they exist).

  • The first 3-man CTIA team to do literature review became known as the “Scientific Advisory Group on Cellular Telephone Research” (SAG-CTR)
    It was identical to the later (renamed) “Scientific Advisory Group on Wireless Telephony” (SAG-WT)
    And this was the same 3-man research management team which eventually controlled the Wireless Technology Research LLC.
  • The first (“blue ribbon”) Peer Review Board (PRB) was assembled by Carlo and Munro, with the advice of Graham from the Harvard School of Public Health, at the beginning of the project in April 1993. This was a substitute for the FDA providing oversight.
  • The Harvard School for Public Health’s “Center for Risk Analysis” was privatised about the same time as the second SAG and PRB were created and became. known as the “Harvard Center for Risk Analysis” (HCRA — it licensed the use of the Harvard name)
  • The second PRB [which incorporated and expanded the old PRB] was established in early 1994.
    The HCRA supposedly audited the WTR work and acted as a go-between with the PRB.
    At the same time the HCRA also created and controlled a Peer Review Board on mains-power problems for the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) with some of the same people.
  • The term “Wireless Technology Research” was used as a general term for SAG-WT projects, and the name was later applied to the incorporated company WTR LLC in February 1995.

1993 June 1: — May 31 1994 [First fiscal year] A later report by Jeff Silva “Research Fund may fall $4 million short of goal” (Published in 27 May 1996) records that the ‘blind escrow account’ established for the SAG received $450,000 from the CTIA in this first financial year. However…

nearly $1.5 million dollars was spent the same fiscal year by CTIA on non-research activities defined by the association as “staff support for the health/safety program, funds for developing scientific spokespersons outside the research process, media tracking, public opinion polling… as well as a variety of other non-research-related items.

Silver also notes that according to public statements made by WTR…

While CTIA’s budget shows $450,000 deposited into the WTR escrow account in fiscal 1994 [It was actually called the SAG at this time], WTR said in its July 1995 report on phase one of its program that almost $3 million was spent on research in 1994.

[The discrepency was never explained].

1993 June 16: The NIEHS, EPA, FCC and FDA met in an intragency meeting to look at cellphone research. Mays Swicord of the FDA briefed the other agencies on the CTIA’s mediocre efforts. The summary report said

“Swicord conveyed to the participants Dr Carlo’s opinion that industry should be in control. Swicord further stated that, after much discussion, a compromise on a dual approval project would be acceptable to Dr Carlo.”

Swicord discussed the proposal to establish a CRADA [Cooperative R&D Agreement] to bring funds into the Government…[unknown words deleted]… Dr Carlo’s organization could act as the Secretariat for the Interagency Project Advisory Group (IPAG).

[It is clear from this report that the government agencies saw Carlo as representating the CTIA’s interests, rather than as an ‘independent’ investigator.]
[Source Schram/Carlo book]

1993 July 1: Cellular Business: reports on Advisory group formed for health and cellular research (CTIA SAG)

At its May 25th meeting with the FDA, the CTIA Joint Review Committee reported that it had consolidated its research into the health and cellular issue under a newly formed Scientific Advisory Group.

Dr George Carlo, chairman of Health and Environmental Sciences Group, a consulting firm based in Washington, DC, and adjunct professor at George Washington University Medical School, was named chairman.

“We have turned over the research to the group in order to build a process with respected scientists and a peer review group that will assure that the conclusions have credibility,” said Ron Nessen, CTIA vice president

Carlo was initially funded to $2 million by the CTIA to put together the inital Scientific Advisory Group.

It appears that John D Graham, then at the Center for Risk Analysis, Harvard School of Public Health (and an advisor to Ketchum, and therefore to the CTIA) had a strong hand in the formation of the SAG. He also knew Carlo from previous dioxin and tobacco lobbying.

Graham’s thesis advisor at Carnegie Mellon University, Dr Granger Morgan of Pittsburgh, was contracted to head the advisory committee overseeing the EMF work. [Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy] He had recommended “prudent avoidance” of electromagnetic fields in the early 1990s.

[Morgan’s name disappears from the records after this mention. Clearly he was not considered a suitable candidate for any supervisory position.]

1993 July 13: The CTIA wrote to Om Gandhi at the University of Utah, requesting advice on cellphone-health studies.

“We need copies of any studies that are pertinent to this issue to be available to the press.

As you know, one of the main causes of the cancer-scare media coverage was that the industry was unable to produce the ‘thousands of studies’ that have been conducted on the cellular phone frequency.”

Gandhi was unable to help because the studies didn’t exist.
[Source Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards by Carlo and Schram]

1993 July 16: CTIA press conference held in Washington DC reported that the organization was “moving ahead with a three-to-five year, $15 to $25 million research program” under Dr George Carlo.

[These figures appear to be just a vague proposal at this time. The CTIA was in dispute with the FDA as to how credible research would be conducted.
The CTIA wanted the industry to control the research, and the FDA only to perform a peer-review function. The FDA wanted the industry to provide the funding and themselves to control the research.]

The CTIA has formed a three-person advisory group headed by Carlo [which] is currently preparing an assessment of existing studies and a research agenda.

Carlo has also set up a nine-member peer-review panel, which will comment on the research agenda and then work with the advisory group to develop requests for proposals (RFPs) for an initial six to eight studies.The RFPs should be issued in November, Carlo said, and funding should be in reseachers’ hands around the end of the year.

Wheeler said that “approximately 100” relevant studies reviewed by the SAG so far “show that there is no relationship between exposure in cellular frequencies and cancer.”

The ‘blue-ribbon’ FDA panel to review the methodology and findings of this research had not eventuated. The CTIA had also withdrawn its offer to the FDA to act as an auditor, because the Association “would not provide the agency with the control it requires to be directly involved in a research program,” the FDA said.

Nor were they able to enter into a ‘cooperative research agreement.’ [denied by the FDA]

The CTIA also produced an Interim Report. “Safety Update — Fast Facts: Portable Cellphone Safety.” George Carlo, had “reviewed about 400 papers” and found no problems. They also suggested that the FDA concurred with this view.

[To support them at the press conference, the CTIA had hired Ron Nessen as Vice President and industry spokesman. Nessen had been press secretary to President Gerald Ford.

They also hired Jody Powell of the tobacco industry’s favourite PR firm Powell Tate. Jody Powell had been press secretary to President Jimmy Carter, and Sheila Tate had been press secretary to Nancy Reagan.] [Source Carlo/Schram book]

1993 July 17: Following the CTIA press conference, the Washington Times headlined its story “Cellular industry’s research finds no link.”

“So far, we have been looking for problems and have not found indications of problems;’ George Carlo, an outside scienlist heading the industry’s research program, said at a news conference in Washington.

Scientists funded by the Cellular Telephone Industry Association have begun a three-to-five-year study, at a cost of $15 million to $25 million, into whether portable phones held close to the head can cauae brain tumors.

The scientists are culling thousands of past studies to find out what areas need further research, said Mr. Carlo. a public health epidemiologist and chairman of Health and Environmental Sciences Group, a research firm in Washington.

None of the studies the scientists reviewed suggests that contact with radio frequencies used by portable phones can cause cell damage that leads to tumor, Mr. Carlo said.

When asked about the research of Dr Cleary, Carlo said that industry scientists had raised “questions about the scientific method” used by Cleary.
[He was intimating that the Cleary research was suspect. However no serious ‘questions’ had been raised in the literature except by the cellphone companies and their consultants.]

The Washington Post reported Carlo as attacking “recent studies suggesting that the electromagnetic field that a cellular phone generates can stimulate the growth of cancerous cells were not as ‘rigorous’ as they needed to be. ‘There is no strong biological basis to suspect that there is a cancer link’ he said”

This document-bundle from the FCC also includes the CTIA’s September press handout, What the Cellular Industry Has Done Since the “Cancer Scare”.

1993 July 19: Elizabeth Jacobson, deputy director of the FDA CDRH program,

“sent Wheeler a letter that sharply reprimanded the CTIA president and top lobbyist for what he had said…. ‘Rest assured. Cellular telephones are safe.’”

To sum up, Mr Wheeler, our role as public health agency is to protect health and safety, not to “reassure consumers.” I think it is very important that the public understand where we stand in evaluating the possibility that cellular phones might pose a health risk.

I am concerned that your July 16 press conference did not serve that end as well as it should have.

The FDA noted in a report that the CTIA had used the FDA to support its case, and yet no real research had ever been done on the safety of cellphones. It noted:

Dr Elizabeth Jacobson, deputy director for science at the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, chastised Wheeler about comments at a press conference that she said “seemed to display an unwarranted confidence that these products will be found to be absolutely safe.

“Our job as a public health agency is to protect health and safety, not to “reassure consumers,” added Jacobson.

The FDA concluded by suggesting that the public might “wonder how impartial the research is likely to be.”       [Multiple sources]

1993 July 21: An Information Workshop on Cellular Telephone Transmitting Facilities was held in San Francisco by the California Public Utilities Commission. One paper examines the effects of the deliberate high-exposure to EMFs of the staff in the US Embassy in Moscow (a Soviet harassment technique which went on for years) and found an undifferentiated increase in a number of health conditions. It also looked at the radar exposures of servicemen.

See page 15 on for Part 1  Part 2 

1993 Sep 30: Carlo held a conference to discuss the SAG’s “Integrated Assessment of Existing Data” and to present a future research agenda. The CTIA said that they had

  • formed a Joint Research Committee of cellular carriers and manufacturers to oversee research.
  • pledged to fund research
  • met with FDA and other government agencies
  • Established a three man Scientific Advisory Group.
  • Established a Peer-Review Board of world-class scientists
  • Estabished a blind-trust to assure credibility
  • completed the Integrated Assessment of Existing Data,
  • undertaken scientific research in areas needing further study.

Carlo is organizing a symposium in Research Triangle Park, NC, on September 30 to discuss the research agenda. As many as 35 leading RF/MW researchers from government and academia are expected to attend. Carlo said.

In her letter to [the CTIA President] Wheeler, [Elizabeth ] Jacobson [FDA] wrote that CTIA’s statements that the FDA would “review and validate” the research “did not accurately characterize the relationship between CTIA and the FDA.” She continued: “It goes without saying that we would review your data.”

[Carlo’s book says that the FDA, FCC, EPA and NCI all boycotted this meeting]

1993 Oct 4: Carlo wrote to the CTIA proposing a PR program to counter the absence of support from the government agencies. It would involved:

  • an open letter from Carlo to Wheeler — to be published in the next CTIA newsletter.
  • a letter-to-the-editor of the Wall Street Journal
  • a letter to CNN ‘clarifying the misinformation regarding the Peer Review Board and the relationship with the FDA

Carlo also stressed that the industry should never get into the position where it funded a government regulator like the FDA to do research. He accused Mays Swicord and the other members of the CDRH of promoting

“a self-serving ploy espoused by one or two midlevel bureaucrats within the agency who would benefir by the receipt of external research funds.’

[Source Carlo/Schram book]

Non-profits for profit

Jim Tozzi and Thorne Auchter at Multinational Business Services (MBS) and Federal Focus Inc (maybe with Carlo as a silent partner) started a new think-tank called the Health Policy Institute. under a directorl Joel Rosenblatt. Both Carlo himself, and the Tozzi/Auchter partnership were establishing numerous non-profits at this time for different projects and functions.Auchter and Carlo collaborated in the Institute for Regulatory Policy, which later appears to have been replaced by the ‘Center for Regulatory Effectiveness (CRE)’ run also by Joel Rosenblatt. The IRP, in turn, sloughed off some lobbying operations under the names Coalition for Executive OrderCoalition for Moratorium on Risk Assessments, and Coalition of Cities and States on Environmental Mandates.
[Carlo may have been only superficially involved in a few of these.]

The Center for the Study of Environmental Endocrine Effects (CSEEE) was also created by Tozzi and Auchter at about the same time — while Carlo was creating his own raft of non-profits (See Part 4 and 6)

1993 Nov 26: According to the Carlo/Scramm book Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards, Tom Wheeler at the CTIA wrote a memo headed “Dealing with the Hydra Headed Cancer Scare” to his top associates, outlining his own battle plan.
CBS News were about to do a story on the stand-off between the CTIA and the FDA over the control of the research. Wheeler wrote:

“Until they indicate that they are looking for something more than a story of a fight between FDA & CTIA, we won’t appear on camera [and] the FDA will do the same.

CBS News apparently had three Wheeler/Carlo letters that had been leaked to them (according to Carlo) by Mays Swicord at the FDA. The FDA were holding out for full control of the research program, with the industry just providing the funding. Carlo and the CTIA were opposed to this attempt to assume control.

Carlo and Wheeler took the position that funding the FDA would be interpreted as ‘buying them off’.

One of the things that concerns FDA is that George is an advocate not a scientist,’ Wheler wrote. “He’s our consellor on these issues and the man who is managing the process… as such he’s suspect…. It is Harvard “[Graham’s Center for Risk Analysis]” which has been retained to manage the research program.

George has been retained to advise CTIA and to manage CTIA’s component in the overall program.”

In his book, Carlo claims to have recruited the Harvard University Center for Risk Analysis himself, and that Wheeler had wanted “Carlo and the peer-reviewer officals at Harvard” [ie Graham] to tell him “where we will be vulnerable so that we can attempt to mitigate that vulnerability now” in order to out-maneuver the FDA.

[With some exceptions, as with the details of this memo, it is wise to take the claims in the Carlo/Scramm book with more than a grain of salt. We have not relied on it to any degree in this analysis; it is clearly self-serving and often deceptive.]

1993 Nov: /E Carlo’s book maintains that in late 1993 a lawyer for Motorola sought his advise about a Californian scientist/consultant Dr Asher Sheppard who had been testifying at a number of public meetings about the potential health risk of cellular phone base stations.

Carlo’s advice was that Motorola should hire him as a consultant to shut him up. They did so, and then nominated him to serve on the Peer Review Board (supposedly put together as an independent group by the HRCA) He says “I always viewed him as Motorola’s guy on the board.”

[So much for the claim that the Peer Review Board was an independent group kept at arms-length by having the Harvard Center for Risk Assessment as a go-between.]

1993 Nov: The Environmental Protection Agency now became involved in the cellphone health dispute. The EPA provided critical comments to the FCC about their decision to adopt the ANSI/IEEE standard for radiation exposure, and recommended that it only be adopted with some modifications.
[They were rightly dubious about the grounds on which it was based.]

The EPA suggested that “more protective exposure limits” were needed at lower and higher frequencies, and that distinctions should be made between occupational and general public exposure. They were also adamant that there was a need to consider ” ‘athermal’” effects, and the “need to consider pulse- and ELF-modulated RF radiation.”
[No one ever followed these recommendations.]

1993 Dec: Until this period, John Graham had just acted as an advisor to the CTIA through his sub-contracting to Ketchum Public Relations. However, in order to be able to demonstrate how independent and arm’s length all their research was, the CTIA, as organisers of the SAG, announced that the research agenda on cellular EMFs would be coordinated through Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Risk Analysis.

[You’ll also find the Harvard group and Graham himself, prominentaly featured in the Phillip Morris archive documents at this time. Although the tobacco industry and the cellphone industry weren’t necessarily collaborating, they were both in some product-liability and junk-science coalitions (such as TASSC) and clearly well aware of the techniques and lobbying organisations being used by each other.

When the CTIA announced that the HSPH’s Center for Risk Analysis staff would audit the science conducted by Carlo’s SAG and later his WTR, they didn’t spell out what they meant by ‘independent’ and ‘arms-length’.]

1993 Dec: Robert Kane, a research and development engineer with Motorola on cellphones, sues the company after developing a brain tumor. He had worked on testing the early cellphone prototypes. The case was quietly settled by a confidential employer-employee resolution.

1993 Dec 14 – 15: Thorne Auchter (ex OSHA and MBS) became involved with the cellphone-health issue probably through becoming a silent partner of George Carlo in Health & Environmental Services (Group) about this time.
[We can’t be certain about Jim Tozzi; he may also have been a silent partner, or just a friend. They all seem to have shared ownership of a large game-fishing boat.]

Auchter and his partner Jim Tozzi (operating through Federal Focus Inc. a highly profitable non-profit) was contracted by Carlo to organise a number of projects for the cellphone industry Scientific Advisory Group (SAG):

  • 14-15 December 1993: “Cellular Telephone Research and Cancer Symposium” (Washington, DC)
      “A joint Federal-private sector symposium for development of a comprehensive research strategy for assessing potential health risks from cellular telephones.”
          The two-day symposium included a series of tutorials by leading scientific researchers from government, industry and academia [which] discussed a wide variety of topics.
  • October 1994: The convening of a “National Symposium on Wireless Transmission Base Station Facilities” (University of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh) ,
    [This was also a Carlo-SAG/CTIA commission]The emphasis appears to have been on having industry engineers run workships for the untutored in why cellphones could not possibly have any health effects.
  • They also published “Federal Focus National Symposium on Wireless Transmission Base Station Facilities: A Tutorial” The development and publication of educational materials on the state of scientific knowledge regarding the potential for health risks from cellular communications base stations.
    [No one in the Tozzi/Auchter operations would have known the first thing about cellular base-stations. And by focussing on base-stations, they diverted attention away from the handsets which was the major cause of concern.]
  • Providing assistance to Federal agencies and the private sector in raising funding for, and coordinating, the exhibit on U.S. environmental technology at the Rio “Earth Summit”
    [This appears to be a reference to the coalition which floated the Heidelberg Appeal]
  • A briefings of Executive Branch officials on the “unfunded mandates” issue impacting state and local governments
  • Participation in Executive Branch discussions leading up to Executive Order 12866 (on regulatory planning and review)
  • Publication of “A Blueprint for Constructing a Credible Environmental Risk Assessment Policy in the 104th Congress” (Oct. 1994)
  • The publication of “Environmental Endocrine Effects: An Overview of the State of Scientific Knowledge and Uncertainties” (CSEEE, Sept. 1995)

Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)
Digital Cellular Phones begin to be marketed.

1994: Nokia introduces the first mass-produced digital GSM phone handset (#1011) in Europe. The American industry followed with its Digital AMPS (TDMA) models.

Radio interference effects
The interference potential from pulsed interference of the new time-division digital cellphones (TDMA and GSM) became widely known in this year. A 1998 report says:

The American cellphone industry also chose to deny the facts, even after the evidence of cellphone interference with hearing aids and pacemakers had been demonstrated in Australia (initially in 1994) and then in the UK.

Only in the last three years have the Americans officially accepted this as fact — even though thousands of medical device wearers have reported time-division (GSM and US IS-54/TDMA/D-AMPS) cellphones were causing substantial problems.

[This claim is only partly correct. The UK’s DTI engineers had known about the interference effects of TDMA/GSM since 1990, and the US developers of D-AMPS would have known this also. The radiating time-pulses would have interfered with their test equipment.]

1994: Henry Lai of Washington University in Seattle published Microwave irradiation affects radial-arm maze performance in the rat(with A Horita and AW Guy).

This study on the performance of rats in a radial-arm maze after microwave exposure showed that the microwaves “retarded learning, indicting a deficit in spatial cognitive function.”

After 45 min of exposure to pulsed 2450 MHz microwaves (2 microseconds pulses, 500 pps, 1 mW/cm2, average whole body SAR 0.6 W/kg), rats showed retarded learning while performing in the radial-arm maze to obtain food rewards, indicating a deficit in spatial “working memory” function.

This behavioral deficit was reversed by pretreatment before exposure with the cholinergic agonist physostigmine or the opiate antagonist naltrexone, whereas pretreatment with the peripheral opiate antagonist naloxone methiodide showed no reversal of effect. These data indicate that both cholinergic and endogenous opioid neurotransmitter systems in the brain are involved in the microwave-induced spatial memory deficit.

Lai repeated this work with the pulsed transmission system in 1998 with the same results.

1994  1998 

1994 Jan: Microwave News broke the story that engineer Robert Kane was suing Motorola over his brain tumor, and CBS TV’s “Eye to Eye” ran a story.

1994 Feb: /E Dr Soma Sarkar of the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences in New Delhi, India, published a research paper early in 1994 suggesting that EMF can cause breaks in DNA strands. She used frequencies above those used by the cellphones of the day (but close to today’s phones) and relied on an assay technique called “micronucleus” (irrregular size of nucleii after cell division) to detect chromasome cell damage.

Her findings were dismissed by the industry as being “of questionable relevance” but were confirmed only a few months later by the Lai-Singh research (Washington University, Seattle) using a more sophisticated alkaline comet-assay techniques which allow them to see the actual strand breaks.

1994 Feb 11: The Wall Street Journal runs an article by John Keller “Are They Safe?”

1994 Feb 11: The CTIA’s SAG [Originally said to be looking at bio-effects of ‘cellphone radiation” is officially renamed to look at radio in general: In a 1995 Carlo speech he explained:

In 1994, the SAG changed its name to the Scientific Advisory Group on Wireless Technology (SAG-WT) as a reflection of its expanding research role in the areas of telecommunications technology and electromagnetic interference.

[Actually, this name-change appears to be an attempt to downplay the problem of cellular phones by widening the coverage of the investigations to encompass all radio-emitting devices — including two-way radios, cordless phones, radar, etc. However the funding and the industry focus remained the same.

It becomes obvious to most industry watchers and journalists that the CTIA’s SAG operation is merely a delaying tactic. Nothing of any significance is being done.]

1994 Feb 11: Wall Street Journal “Are They Safe” by John Keller, quotes Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave Newsletter

“The industry hasn’t told the public the full story about how there has been very little research on biological effects at low level exposures, similar to those of handheld phones,’ says Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, a New York newsletter and a frequent critic of the industry’s handling of the safety issue.”

Very limited information has been available to the public about the risks of cell phones or various electromagnetic fields outside of some obscure research and academic circles. The fact is that increasing evidence has been mounting and the true risks of these energy fields are becoming well known.

The industry has also asked for proposals on studies that will examine possible genetic effects of exposure to cellular-phone frequencies. Peer review of all of the industry backed studies will be coordinated through Harvard University’s Center for Risk Analysis, says George L. Carlo, an epidemiologist at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and chairman of the group.

1994 Apr 4: Kathleen Lobb of Powell Tate (the PR firm retained by the CTIA for ‘crisis management’) sent Carlo a memo “Materials for Crisis Communications Plan”

As you know, Powell Tate is assisting CTIA in developing a crisis communications plan and handbook that it will make available to its members in order to be prepared if and when an industry crisis occurs.

Carlo agreed to write the introduction. [Source Carlo’s book]

1994 June 1: — May 31 1995:
[This is the second fiscal year of SAG — but the first with part of the WTR program of real research]

A later report by Jeff Silva “Research Fund may fall $4 million short of goal” (Published in 27 May 1996) records that

“The budget for WTR research jumped to $5 million in fiscal years ’95-96.

Slightly more than $1 million in funding for CTIA public and industry affairs was budgeted in fiscal 1995.”

However, Silver also notes

“..that the WTR [had] said it planned to spend $10 million in 1995. It is unclear whether WTR was referring to the calendar year or fiscal year. WTR refused to comment.”

A later WTR document maintains

The 1994 [94-95] budget of nearly $3 million included more than $2 million (or 70 percent) for fundamental Risk Evaluation Research in the areas of dosimetry, toxicology, epidemiology, and clinical studies. From that budget, Scientific Outreach received $370,000, Ongoing Surveillance received $270,000, and Risk Management Research received $160,000 in support.
[‘Scientific Outreach’ is a euphemism for scientific PR. ‘Ongoing Surveillance’ means paying staff or compliant scientists to read the literature and attend conferences. ‘Risk Managment Research’ can mean anything.]

1994 June 17: A Workshop on “Safety of Mobile Communications”, was held in conjunction with the Bioelectromagnetics Society meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark.

[The Bioelectromagnetics Society, of BEMS, is a society of EMF researchers, mostly from the cellphone industry, but with a few independent university researchers. It was controlled at different times by the industry and at other times by the independent researchers, and it also published a journal.]

Microwave News reported on a Copenhagen Workshop saying:

In an interview, Carlo told Microwave News that the research program is a “massive undertaking” and that $15 million is not going to be enough to resolve the safety issues. “After $25 million, we will have a database to make some further decisions,” he said.

He stressed that, “I have been told that I’ll have enough money to do the job if the studies are rigorous and peer-reviewed.” Carlo, an epidemiologist and a lawyer who is the chairman of the Health & Environmental Sciences Group in Washington, plans to issue an overall research strategy at the end of August.

So far, the CTIA program has been moving slowly. A year and a half after CTIA announced the initiative, only one research contract has been awarded —to Drs. Kenneth Rothman and Nancy Dreyer of Epidemiology Resources Inc. of Newton Lower Falls, MA, to develop a database on the use of cellular phones for future epidemiological studies.

Two other contracts, announced by Carlo last December, have not yet been finalized. These are dosimetry studies by Dr C.K. Chou of the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA, and by Dr Om Gandhi of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

Because of the almost total lack of funds for health research in the US, very little new biological data were reported at the meeting.

  • Chou was the old research assistant to Bill Guy who later worked for Motorola.
  • Om Gandhi had been on the original PRB put together by Carlo and he was also a member of the IEEE EMF standards panel.
  • Kenneth Rothman was also the editor of the journal Epidemiology. He didn’t ever see any possible conflict-of-interest in these two roles.

The Lai-Singh ‘War-Gaming’ fiasco begins.
At this Copehnagen conference, Carlo learned from Dr Henry Lai of the University of Washington that research into cellphone-level microwave exposure of live rats, had discovered an increase in the number of single-strand breaks in the DNA of the rat’s brain cells. They were using a new research technique called ‘comet assays’ (Lai’s colleague, Dr Narendra P Singh, was the leading expert in developing these techniques.)

Comet assays – DNA strand breaks
Lai and Singh were the acknowledged world experts in a laboratory research technique known as the “alkaline comet assay” which allows them to detect and estimate both the number and length of individual broken strands within a cell’s chromasomes. This is one of a half-dozen different techniques used to detect DNA damage, but it is certainly the most sensitive.

In this form of comet assay, the cell wall is chemically removed, and the broken strands stream out ahead of the cell nucleus because they are being dragged by a low-voltage DC electrical attraction through a resistant gell medium.

[This is possible because DNA strands are semi-conductors, and therefore in an electric field exhibit both positive and negative ends which are proportional charged, according to the length of the strand.]

This is a highly skilled, extremely specialized technique that requires regular standardised sensitivity-testing using white blood cells and a standardized test-source with low-level ionizing radiation.

However single-strand DNA breaks in chromasomes are relatively common when cells divide, and the cell can usually repair the breaks efficiently — but not always. If they rejoin incorrectly, this can lead to mutations and also to cancer formation. Any increases in strand breaks could obviously lead to radical transformation of the cell in unexpected ways — especially in cells which are constantly dividing, duplicating and modifiying (brain and testies, for instance).

Lai and Singh also later demonstrated double-strand breaks. This mean that the double-helix chromasome has been entirely severed, and it demonstrates much greater EMF impacts. However these cells usually die.

[Source: Many, including Lai-Singh and other documents]

1994 June 18: /E The news that Professor Henry Lai and Dr Narendra Singh from the University of Washington in Seattle have shown both single—strand DNA breaks in brain cells with live rats exposed to only two hours of low-power microwaves at 2.45 GHz creates a furore at Copenhagen.
[Published in 1995 as Lai H, Singh NP. Acute low-intensity microwave exposure increases DNA single-strand breaks in rat brain cells. Bioelectromagnetics.]

Such molecular damage from non-ionizing radiation has long been said to be impossible, so this is obviously going to be the story of the year.

What’s more, it appears to confirm previous research conducted by Soma Sarkar, and also that of Stephen Cleary at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond who had shown that brain-tumor cells proliferated at an abnormal rate following an exposure to RF and microwave radiation.

Carlo is on the record as expressing an opinion about the Cleary research:

“There is a long stretch between being able to measure an effect and being able to identify an adverse process that will lead to cancer,” Carlo told the reporters. When pressed to say whether his advisory group rejected Cleary’s work, he said: “Those studies have not passed the test of scientific rigor.”

He added that scientists familiar with Cleary’s research had reviewed it for him and had raised “serious questions about the laboratory methods.”

Several weeks [later], Carlo told Microwave News that “it is not clear-cut that there is something consistent going on” in Cleary’s research. But he added, “I’ve read Cleary’s work and it’s very important. We may need to see whether or not it is replicable.”

Meg McGinty’s article “Smells Like Smoke” for Ziff Davis] explained the significance of the Lai-Singh discoveries.[As reported in Mar 5 2001]

The battle started in 1994, when University of Washington bioengineering professor Henry Lai and colleague Narendra Singh found DNA strands in rats’ brains were broken by RFR exposure. Cell phones emit the same kind of radiation, although at different frequencies than those tested by Lai and Singh.

Research biologist Jerry Phillips was doing testing, paid for by Motorola, at Pettis Memorial Veterans Administration Hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., during the 1990s. Phillips says he duplicated the Lai and Singh results of DNA breakage in 1996 on human cells. He alleges that Motorola asked him not to publish the results, and that the company cut off its dealings with him when he refused that request.

Motorola’s response to the Lai-Singh research, according to a memo leaked in late 1996 by a company insider, was to “war-game” spin control with the help of PR colossus Burson Marsteller. Motorola subsequently has said that it didn’t discourage Phillips from publishing his results, but that it told him his findings needed clarification. The company continues to stand by its statement that no one has validated the Lai-Singh results to date.

“What do you expect from these folks?” Phillips counters. “There are a number of studies indicating changes in DNA structure as a result of exposure to RFR. They just want to ignore these studies.”

The complex problem of cellphone research
[Microwave News June 1994]

With respect to dosimetry, [Om] Gandhi, who late last year announced surprisingly low specific absorption rates (SARs) in the bodies and brains of simulated phone users, has now raised his estimates by a factor of about ten —the precise level of energy deposition depends on the type of phone and how it is used.

For a quarter-wave antenna, Gandhi’s peak SAR reached 2.27 W/Kg with a maximum in the brain of 1.18 W/Kg. Gandhi’s figures are now much closer to the estimates of other researchers from Australia, Switzerland and the U.K., all of whom presented papers in Copenhagen.

“We have flattened the ear [of his ‘phantom’ or dummy head],” Gandhi explained. That is, he is now placing the phone closer to the head —a much more realistic model than the one he used in his work for McCaw Cellular Communications Inc., which sounded a premature “all clear” last December [1993].

1994 July: Microwave News reported that John Graham’s new Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HCRA) had been enlisted to create two Peer Review Board (one for cellphone research and the other for EMF/Mains Power). Clearly the CTIA and the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI) were now cooperating.

The official name of the cellphone peer review board was “Harvard Peer Review Board on Cellular Telephones and Human Health.”

The SAG-WT which was doing the actual work, still consisted only of:

  • George Carlo. Who was also still running HES for chemical, pharmacuetical research.
  • Ian Munro, his deputy and old friend/associate from Cantox and ‘The Dioxin Wars’ who still had his Canadian operation,
  • Arthur ‘Bill’ Guy, the ex University of Washington at Seattle in a part-time advisory capacity.

The old members of Carlo’s cellphone peer-review board were incorporated into this new HCRA PRB for cellphones expanding it by four new members. It now consisted of:

  • Sir Richard Doll — Oxford Uni, in the UK — the celebrity epidemiologist from his famous anti-tobacco research (now a consultant.).
  • Saxon Graham — a Professor of Epidemiology at State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo — an old Carlo mentor and associate.
  • Gary Williams — American Health Foundation. (assistant to Ernest Wynder, Carlo’s Nocebo and tobacco associate)
  • Patricia Buffler — University of California, Berkeley. Buffler is a highly credible epidemiologist. However she was also a consultant to the electric utility industry and also on the HRCA EPRI’s peer-review board.
  • Philip Cole — University of Alabama at Birmingham; (an old Carlo dioxin associate – also with the EPRI)
    [He resigned soon after and was replaced by Joe A Elder.]
  • Don Justesen — University of Kansas and us Veterans Administration Medical Center;
  • Richard R Monson — Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist who was also with the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis. He was involved in children’s X-ray exposures.
  • Dimitrios Trichopoulis — Harvard University, HSPH and an old tobacco industry researcher. He was a ‘EMF skeptic’ with some experience on powerline exposure problems.

    New Members:
  • John D Graham — Director, Center for Risk Analysis (HSPH)
    • Susan W Putnam — [ex-officio member] Center for Risk Analysis (HSPH) and Graham’s HCRA Project Director.
  • Larry E Anderson — Battelle Pacific Northwest Labs – a BioElectroMagnetic program manager. [A member of TASSC]
  • Carl H Durney — University of Utah Professor of Electrical Engineering.
  • Asher R Sheppard — a Motorola cellphone-health consultant, formerly with the US Veterans Administration (Agent Orange) [“Motorola’s man on the board.”]
  • Peter A Valberg — Health-risk consultant with Cambridge Environmental, and before that, with Gradient Corporation. [Carlo associated with him via RJ Reynolds Premium cigarette promotions, and Valberg also worked for the EPRI and was a Harvard School of Public Health faculty member.]
  • Andrew Sivak — consultant from Cambridge MA who had just resigned as head of the Health Effects Institute (HEI). [He was a close associate of Peter Valberg in a powerline-health research project called NERP for the Electrical Power industry.]
  • Sheldon Wolff — Radiation Effects Research Foundation – a highly respected expert in the biological effects of low-dose ionizing (nuclear) radiation at UCSF.

The report says that the HCRA

  • will oversee the SAG’s research agenda, after negotiations with the FDA broke down.
  • will function as an “information conduit” between the CTIA’s SAG on one hand and the peer-review board on the other.

Health Effects Institute
This was a genuine institute set up in December 1980 by the EPA and the automobile industry. The group who took control was led by Charles Powers (who also established ‘Clean Sites’ for the chemical companies). It’s role was to fund (via grants and contracts) research into the health effects of air-pollution (including asbestos and ozone) == but in branched out into other industries and taded on its EPA links and its name. Naturally the Council for Tobacco Research also became involved.

Andrew Sivak was listed as president and researcher at various times (He only served on the CTIA PRB for a short period). John D Graham and his Harvard Center for Risk Analysis were also involved in HEI (Graham supported the auto and oil industries in opposing the introduction of catalyst convertors and the CAFE fuel economy standards.), and Carlo appears to have done some ozone-pollution work for them.

During Sivak’s tenure as president, the HEI came under attack for its close association with the asbestos industry while also doing asbestos-health research… and also for its links to power-line and electrical supply companies while investigating ELF-health effects.

Epidemiology Resources Inc. (ERI)
This consultancy was run by Kenneth Rothman (editor of Epidemiology magazine) and his associate Nancy Dreyer. They also became embroiled as defendants in some of the brain-cancer court cases levelled against the CTIA and WTR.[Mainly because of privacy issues.]

The Rothman-Dreyer company was contracted by the SAG in 1994 to conduct a survey of 4,000 cellphone users and check their reported usage against their billing records to see how accurate people were in reporting usage. The outline of this project was distorted and promoted by the CTIA as:

“Internationally recognized resarchers Dr Kenneth Rothman and Dr Nancy Dreyer (of Epidemiology Resources, Inc., Newton, Mass.) are directing a large-scale epidemiology study to investigate the possible impact of exposure to radio-freqency waves on human health.”

[They were not doing a study. They were checking for confounding factors and their paper was only published in May 1996. The author-list at the time of publication included Carlo’s HES Group and Motorola, alongside Epidemiology Resources Inc.]

Rothman is mainly remembered today as the advocate of the idea that scientists have an innate integrity and superior ethical standards, so that conflicts of interest should not be of great concern. He labeled the opposition views (the need to declare financial backers and interests) as the “New McCarthyism” (JAMA 1993) and defended scientist’s rights to keep consultancies and funding sources confidential

See WTR notes  Study Details 

Harvard Center for Risk Analysis created:

At about this time John D Graham and his associates at the Harvard School of Public Health split the Center for Risk Analysis away from the Harvard University and privatised it, creating a separate commercial entity called the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis.The HCRA then became an on-the-side consulting company for Harvard academics involved in the new corporate-funded discipline of Risk Assessment and Risk Management, and it used its licensed ‘Harvard’ name to attract generous corporate funding. It also ran short courses for business executives.

The HCRA effectively became a think-tank/policy institute, working for poisoning and polluting companies and lobbying the Republican leaders to limit the power of the regulatory agencies. John D Graham himself became another highly political, science-for-sale entrepreneur and the main promoter of the quasi-scientific (actually economic) discipline of Risk Analysis as government policy.

Graham had spent a lot of time cosying up to the tobacco companies and other industries looking for generous donations in exchange for their financial support.

Later HRCA [private company] documents show that Carlo’s Health & Environmental Sciences Group Ltd. (a family company owned by Carlo and his wife Patricia) became the sole family company listed among the HCRA’s project-specific donors. [ie those who had ‘commissioned projects’]

The other Project Donors are a few very big and wealthy libertarian foundations and government departments, while the General Grants funders are from insurance and companies with product-liability problems.

These companies were all part of the various coalitions on tort-reform, and were organised by Thorne Auchter, Jim Tozzi, Wayne Valis and other lobbyists into coalitions promoting the imposition of cost-benefit and risk-assessment proceedures on the regulatory agencies.

Corporate financial backers of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (HRCA)
General grants from:
3M, Aetna Life & Casualty Company, Alcoa Foundation, American Automobile Manufacturers Association, American Crop Protection Association, American Petroleum Institute, Amoco Corporation, ARCO Chemical Company, ASARCO Inc., Ashland Inc., Astra AB, Atlantic Richfield Corporation, BASF, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, BP America Inc., Chemical Manufacturers Association, Chevron Research & Technology Company, CIBA-GEIGY Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company, Cytec Industries, Dow Chemical Company, DowElanco, Eastman Chemical Company, Eastman Kodak Company, Edison Electric Institute, E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, Electric Power Research Institute, Exxon Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Frito-Lay, General Electric Fund, General Motors Corporation, Georgia-Pacific Corporation, The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Hoechst Celanese Corporation, Hoechst Marion Roussel, ICI Americas Inc., Inland Steel Industries, International Paper, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Kraft General Foods (Philip Morris), Mead, Merck & Company, Mobil Oil Corporation, Monsanto Company, New England Power Service, Olin Corporation, Oxygenated Fuels Association, PepsiCo Inc., Pfizer, Procter & Gamble Company, Rhone-Poulenc, Inc., Rohm and Haas Company, Shell Oil Company Foundation, Texaco Inc., Union Carbide Corporation, Unocal, USX Corporation, Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and WMX Technologies, Inc.
[Every one of them with product liability or poisoning/polluting problems]Restricted grants for project support from:
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, American Industrial Health Council (CMA), Andrew Mellon Foundation, Bradley Foundation, Brookings Institution, Congressional Research Service, Health and Environmental Sciences Group, National Institute of Justice, National Science Foundation, Trustees of Health and Hospitals of the City of Boston, Inc., US. Department of Energy, US. Department of Health and Human Services, US. Environmental Protection Agency, US. Department of Transportation.

Philip Morris documents show that $25,000 per company was expected as a minimum for recognition of general grant support — and obviously much more for commissioned projects.

Some of the above commissions would have been to provide advice on Risk Analysis procedures for government instrumentalities — or to testify at Congressional hearings. Graham specialized in this. Other points:

  • When the HCRA set up the Peer Review Boards for the CTIA, it also established one for the electrical power industry (probably represented by the Edison Power Research Institute in the general grants section).
  • There was a degree of cross-over between the two peer-review panels.
  • Among those listed as having commissioned work, the
    • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, often acted as a front for the automakers,
    • the American Industrial Health Council, lobbied for the Chemical Manufacturer’s Association.
    • the conservative Bradley Foundation, funded many corporate libertarian think-tanks and policy institutes for the Republican party,
    • the Trustees of Health and Hospitals of the City of Boston, Inc., had linked to HSPH.
  • The HES donation to the HCRA was clearly undercover payments for the CTIA. But why did the CTIA need to hide its donation to the HCRA in this way? Graham was already being employed personally via Ketchum Public Relations, and the HSPH Center for Risk Analysis was supposedly working the CTIA as the go-between for the Peer Review Board.. (The WTR’s audited accounts have never been made public.)

How can an organisation claim to be independent and arms-length when it is being funded surreptitiously and in a convoluted way by the organisation it is supposed to audit?

[John D Graham later became director of the OIRA in George Bush II’s White House. This was the ‘toxic czar’ administrative position occupied by Jim Tozzi during the Reagan Administration. The OIRA (a subunit of the OMB) controlled the rules, regulations and budgets of the main government regulatory agencies.

John Graham and Jim Tozzi also figure prominently in tobacco industry archive documents — constantly seeking commissions, donations, grants and payments from the tobacco companies.

The Harvard University board finally decided that it was unethical to accept tobacco industry commissions or grant money, so Graham organised for commissions to be paid via the Philip Morris subsidiaries, Kraft General Foods and the Kraft Foundation.]

1994 July: Microwave News reports that the new digital cellular phones (TDMA and GSM) were interfering with medical devices and pacemakers.

Another report in the newsletter explains the new role of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis with the newly expanded CTIA Peer Review Board.

The scientific advisory group (SAG) of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) had appealed to the HCRA to oversee their research agenda after negotiations with the Food and Drug Administration broke down last year [circa June 1993].

The Harvard Peer Review Board on Cellular Telephones and Human Health will review SAG’s research agenda, protocols and studies on possible health effects from portable cellular telephones. The HCRA will function as the “information conduit” between CTIA’s SAG on the one hand and the peer-review board on the other, said Dr Susan Putnam, a research associate at the HCRA and project manager for the two review panels.

The cellular phone work is completely funded by CTIA, which has set up a blind trust that the center can draw on to pay reviewers, Putnam said. SAG spokesperson Michael Volpe [actually the main defence lawyer for the CTIA] said that the HCRA “will assure the scientific rigor of the studies.”

The HCRA played a limited role in choosing the members of the cellular phone board. Eight members of the 12-member panel were part of the original group organized by Dr George Carlo, head of the CTIA research program. Four additional members were invited by the HCRA. Putnam said that the HCRA wants “to broaden the group” and may create subpanels to review particular studies, if needed.

1994 Aug: The EPA convened an inter-agency work group (EPA, FCC, FDA, NIOSH, NTIA and OSHA) to meet regularly and “address health and regulatory issues pertaining to RF rediation, and provide a basis for coordination among member agencies in their approach to RF radation exposure guidelines — which they expected to release in 1995.”

The work was to be done by the NCRP, chaired by James Lin.

1994 Aug: The Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) [Carlo, Munro and Guy] published a research plan entitled “Potential Public Health Risks from Wireless Technology: Research Agenda for the Development of Data for Science-Based Decision making,” This appears to have introduced the term “Wireless Technology Research” as a general project name, and it makes the claim

The Research Agenda was 15 months in the making [From March 1993] including a seven-month peer review period. More than 150 scientists from academia, private laboratories, government agencies, and industry provided informed input.

The Research Agenda outlined guiding principles for the development of a complete, relevant, credible, and rigorous scientific program for the evaluation of potential human health risks associated with the use of wireless technology.

The research program includes only studies conducted in accordance with Good Laboratory Practices (GLPs), Good Epidemiology Practices (GEPs) and Good Clinical Practices (GCPs).

[This requirement — for inclusion of only studies done in accordance with GLP, GEP, and GCP — gave them the ability to reject virtually any study they wished.

By a remarkable coincidence, at this time Carlo was also involved in the tobacco industry’s attempts [via Tozzi and Auchter] to mount a London conference on global epidemiological standards which came to be called the “London Princples”.

These London Principles then evolved into Philip Morris’s own draft legislation, also known as “Good Epidemiological Practices”(GEP). Philip Morris lobbied to have this legislation accepted by the European Parliament as a way to limit their agencies regulatory powers by setting research standards which were too stringent to be workable.

The tobacco industry’s project on GEP was run by Carlo’s friends and partners, Thorne Auchter and Jim Tozzi with both Carlo and John Graham involved.]

Carlo lobbied the FCC to support his research agenda; the CTIA was keen to keep the FDA and the EPA well out of the picture. The FCC was told that…

[The SAG’s] Research Agenda outlined guiding principles for the development of a complete, relevant, credible, and rigorous scientific program for the evaluation of potential human health risks associated with the use of wireless technology.


1994 Aug: /E (Summer) The Lai-Singh ‘War Gaming’: A later issue of Microwave News outlined the history of the WTR and its involvement in the Lai-Singh ‘War Gaming’ Affair:

During the summer of 1994, as the industry and WTR’s schemes were taking shape, Carlo learned that [Prof Henry] Lai and his collaborator, NP Singh, had found that microwave radiation could damage DNA. (The two University of Washington scientists had sent the WTR a funding proposal that included some preliminary data.)

It did not take long for the WTR, CTIA and the rest of the industry to understand how dangerous this news could be. If microwave radiation could break up the DNA in the brain, the public could easily interpret this as meaning that cell phones can cause brain tumors. Lingering fears would be reignited and the future of what was still a young industry would once again be in question.

[The SAG advisor Bill] Guy understood all this. “I told Henry that ‘You’ve got dynamite on your hands — if it turns out to be a real effect the implications are tremendous’,” Guy told Microwave News at the time (November 1994)

With the benefit of hindsight, it is now apparent that the industry devised a three-point plan to control the DNA story:

  1. To delay, or better stop, Lai and Singh from continuing their DNA work;
  2. To prevent others from following up, or at least to carefully select those who would; and
  3. To convince the press and the public that the Lai-Singh work on DNA breaks results was of marginal importance with questionable relevance to cell phone safety.

The plan worked. Much of the story was recounted in the pages of Microwave News over the years. Briefly, here’s what happened:

  • Despite pledges of financial support from the WTR, Lai and Singh did not receive a penny for close to four years.
    Then in 1998, they were given a small contract to do some work in C.K. Chou’s lab at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California. (Chou had worked with Guy at the University of Washington for many years.)
    [One of the contract conditions was that Lai and Singh used the SAG’s new animal exposure system under the control of Chou.]
    By the time the experiments got under way at City of Hope, Chou had accepted a job at Motorola and moved to Florida.) [snip] The WTR never funded anyone else to do an in-depth investigation of cell phones and DNA breaks.
  • Motorola, which had its own research program, sponsored DNA work in Joe Roti Roti‘s lab at Washington University in St. Louis.
    Perhaps not surprisingly, those results conflicted with those of Lai and Singh. The reasons for the inconsistencies have yet to be resolved.
    [Motorola imposed far less stringent conditions on the St Louis group — and yet Roto-Roti’s team had absolutely no experience with comet assays and completely messed up the sensitivity testing to the point where they made ludicrous claims. See later explanation of this fiasco]
  • The industry made a full-court press to discredit the DNA break study. A consistent and coordinated message was put out to marginalize Lai and Singh.
    For instance, in November 1994, Q. Balzano, then a senior Motorola executive, wrote to us [Microwave News] that, “[E]ven if it is validated, the effects it purports to show may be inconsequential.” [snip] By December, media handlers at Motorola and Burson-Marsteller, a large public relations firm, were working overtime to prepare a strategy for Motorola, CTIA and WTR’s [actually still the SAG’s] response to the inevitable media inquiries. This is documented in the so-called “War Gaming” memos, which were leaked to Microwave News [in early 1997].

1994 Sept 5: Telephony article “Research group to study cellular/cancer link.”

The Scientific Advisory Group on Cellular Telephone Research, commissioned last year by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association to study the potential of cellular phones to cause brain cancer, will release a research agenda this week outlining plans for $2 million worth of laboratory tests and studies that will focus on the issue over the next two years.

The move comes more than a year and a half after a storm of concern and controversy hit the cellular industry when a Florida man charged on a nationally televised talk show that his wife died from brain cancer brought on by cellular phone usage. Within days of the allegations, the CTIA said it would conduct its own É etc.etc.

1994 Oct 28: Carlo’s silent partner, the ex-head of the OSHA, Thorne Auchter, (a lobbyist with Jim Tozzi in a variety of non-profits and company fronts — mainly Federal Focus Inc) ran their second cellphone-health symposium National Symposium on Wireless Transmission Base Station Facilities at the University of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia.
[Federal Focus had previously run the Cellular Telephone Research and Cancer Symposium in December 1993]

The Federal Focus web site now says that:

The symposium, sponsored by the Scientific Advisory Group on Cellular Telephone Research, brought together scientists, engineers and other professional experts from the federal government, industry and academia to discuss key issues and concerns regarding cellular telephone transmission towers. Presentations were delivered on: current and planned cellular communication technologies; typical exposure to base station RF and exposure standards; transmission towers and electromagnetic interference; and land use issues.

They followed this up with “Federal Focus National Symposium on Wireless Transmission Base Station Facilities: A Tutorial” involving the development and publication of educational materials on the state of scientific knowledge regarding the potential for health risks from cellular communications base stations.

At about the same time they also published “A Blueprint for Constructing a Credible Environmental Risk Assessment Policy in the 104th Congress” [These were either Carlo-inspired operations, or the most amazing coincidence of all time.]

1994 Nov: The Lai-Singh ‘War Gaming’: Bill Guy, who acted as a technical adviser to Carlo and Munro, as part of the three SAG executive team surreptitiously reported “Henry Lai to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for having carried out alleged unauthorized experiments on DNA breaks”

[He had been doing other research on a NIH grant. Guy’s charge was that he was relying on NIH funding but not doing their work exclusively. Lai maintained that he had done the DNA-break work in his own time.].

The NIH investigated the complaint and dismissed it. Guy denied having made the complaint to Microwave News, but they were not convinced; his fingerprints were all over it, and an NIH investigator had already revealed the source of the complaint to Lai.

1994 Nov: The Lai-Singh ‘War Gaming’: Senior Motorola executive Q Balzano wrote to Microwave News discounting the importance of the Lai-Singh DNA break research saying: “

“[E]ven if it is validated, the effects it purports to show may be inconsequential.”

Microwave News commented

Maybe so, but it had been important enough for Balzano to rush to Lai’s lab in Seattle that previous August, soon after he had first heard about the new findings. Carlo also made a trip to see Lai that summer.

1994 Nov: /E The CTIA put out an advisory booklet to their members. “Procedures and Resources Manual for Public Health and Safety Issues.” It contained information about both the SAG and the PRB, together with a series of Q&A Responses in the event that their staff members are interviewed by journalists.

As you’d expect it was loaded with highly selective, simplistic, calming, and dismissive statements, and it recognises only one adverse study finding as being significant.

Q. Have any studies shown — directly or indirectly — that cellular phones could be harmful?

A. No. The work of Dr Stephen Cleary at the Medical College of Virginia has been citied by some as a basis for suspicion. Dr Cleary found cancer proliferation in cells exposed to radio waves in petri dishes. However, those experiments were conducted at a different frequency and at power levels well in excess of those used by cellular phones.

This rubbish was presented as if the Cleary study were the only scientific finding ever made against EMF radiation.

By this time the CTIA had apparently accepted that some figure between $15 and $20 million would be needed to run a research program with sufficient credibility to be politically acceptable, and that such a program would take 3 to 5 years, now that “a comprehensive review of existing data is complete.” [This acquired the name ‘Wireless Technology Reseach’ program over time]

The advisory booklet shows that members of the SAG (Munro and Carlo) were anything but ‘arms-length and independent’ researchers; they were seen as part of the PR and crisis management team of the CTIA. It advises member companies…

Whether the crisis appears local, regional, or national, draw on the resources of CTIA, SAG, and member companies to determine its severity and mount an effectie, consistent, and coordinated response.

1994 Nov 4: The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) which was charged with watching over the CTIA’s supposed ‘independent funding of cellphone research’ issued a report “Telecommunications: Status of Research on the Safety of Cellular Telephones” noting that…

… the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believed that there was insufficient evidence to determine whether exposure to low-level radiofrequency energy presents a human health risk. Given the state of scientific knowledge, they told us that they did not have a basis for taking regulatory actions on mobile phones

The GAO concluding that existing research into the safety of cellular phones was inadequate. They did not believe cell phones should be taken off the market, but they told the CTIA that further research should be done as a matter of urgency to determine whether they pose a health hazard.
They also want more independence for the SAG and the Peer Review Board and insist that [the CTIA’s] research funding be placed in an escrow account, saying that the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) would only have credibility if it was an independent entity.

The CTIA’s immediate response was to announce that they would create the Wireless Technology Research LLC organisation (to be headed by Carlo, and housed with his HESG). The WTR would be provided with regular funding through an escrow account (effectively under Carlo’s and HCRA’s control)

Note that the

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was also closely monitoring the progress of the SAG group, and was also highly critical
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has abandoned its efforts to set standards for cellphones and other radio devices.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a document outlining predictable problems from the proliferation of cellphones when there has been no real attempt by the manufacturers or the cellphone companies to investigate potential health impacts.It issued a paper which outlined the problems and some of the rationale behind existing standards (but this was based on the old idea that harm could only come from R/F heating of body tissues — the so-called ‘Thermal’ assumption.)

1994 Dec 2: -4 Carlo was running a Los Angeles scientific workshop to “discuss, debate and attempt to reach a consensus on appropriate directions for development of in vivo [live animla] and in vitro [cell culture] exposure systems.”

They also managed to waste even more time over discussions as to whether tests should be done using the 800-900 MHz frequencies then in use, or the 1.8-1.9 GHz frequences about to be released for cellphone and personal communications services (PCS) use.Also under discussion was the angle of the antenna and its effects on polarisation.

[By submerging the basic problems in a mass of minor technical and dosimetric detail, the SAG had already managed to waste more than a year of actual research time.]

1994 Dec 13: /E An internal Motorola Inc report says that they will collaborate with the CTIA in support of George Carlo’s WTR operation. This was in answer to publicised charges that the program was a gigantic waste of money.

Motorola always ran their own parallel research program, but details were only rarely released to the public. After 1999, the company virtually took over the funding role for all cellphone research in the USA.

The ‘War-Gaming memos’
These are written by Motorola’s Norm Sandler to Burson-Marsteller’s Michael Kehs.
[They were leaked to the press in March 1997]

“War-Gaming” the Lai-Singh DNA-break findings.
1994 Dec 13: On this day two memos were sent by Norm Sandler of Motorola to Michael Kehs of Burson-Marsteller (B-M), the industry’s PR company. Burson-Marsteller was setting up a crisis managment program to counter the Lai-Singh DNA-break findings. The memos are significant because they show how close the collaboration was between the industry and the SAG team under Carlo.

The “War-Gaming” memo dealt with the finding of DNA breaks in rat brain-cells after a single two-hour exposure to microwaves at power levels considered safe by the then-current standards. The study by Drs Henry Lai and Narendra Singh [University of Washington in Seattle] was still unpublished.

However Motorola had a copy of a confidential draft proposal which Lai had sent to Carlo requesting funding for replication and extension studies. They also had the details of a closely-related study by Dr Soma Sakar (also showing DNA breaks) which had largely been ignored in the USA because it was conducted in India,

This memo was accompanied by an eight-page draft Internal Strategy paper which provided ‘pat’ answers to expected media questions. It also contained an Action Plan, and Media Strategy [See below).

Memo: [Full Text]

Re: Revision of Lai-Singh Materials
Rusty [Brashear], [Dir. of Motorola’s Corp. Communications] just had an animated telephone conversation with Bob Weisshappel [Mgr of Motorola’s Cellular Subscriber Group], who was as insistent as ever about the prominent inclusion of the frequency differentiation argument in our materials.

[“Frequency differentiation” refers to the fact that Henry Lai’s rat exposure system used microwave frequencies which were higher than the old 800 MHz then being used by cellphones (but close to the frequencies being introduced at that time). Motorola executives wanted to emphasise that these were ‘not cellphone frequencies’ — without explaining that the difference was probably inconsequential.]

He also was adamant that we have a forceful one- or two-sentence portion of our standby statement that puts a damper on speculation arising from this research, as best we can.

I tried to do that in the latest proposed revision of the standby statement, but offer this new, somewhat strengthened version of the second paragraph for consideration:

    “While this work raises some interesting questions about possible biological effects, it is our understanding that there are too many uncertainties — related to the methodology employed, the findings that have been reported and the science that underlies them — to draw any conclusions about its significance at this time.
        Without additional work in this field, there is absolutely no basis to determine whether the researchers found what they report finding — or that the results have anything at all to do with DNA damage or health risks, especially at the frequencies and power levels of wireless communication devices.”

In discussing the frequency differentiation issue, we should be able to say that Lai-Singh and Sarkar [studies]:

  • were not conducted at cellular frequencies, so are of questionable relevance;
  • run counter even to other studies performed at 2450 MHz, raising possible questions about the findings.

I can accept that, as a logical way to raise and defend the frequency differentiation argument. Where I think we differ, is in the prominence it should be given in our public statement(s). Maybe the construction proposed above, which hits the frequency/power level issue right off the bat without making a federal case out of it, will suffice.

I’m off to Dallas, but obviously am reachable if necessary. I’m hoping we can get this document revision out of the way and return to more pressing matters (at least in terms of long-term priorities).

I think we have sufficiently war-gamed the Lai-Singh issue, assuming SAG and CTIA have done their homework. We may want to run this by George Carlo and fill him in on the contacts we’ve made.

[It’s hard to believe that these tactics weren’t taken directly out of the tobacco industry’s textbook… but, of course, they were….

Burson-Marsteller was the tobacco industry’s prefered PR company for decades and it was a co-conspirator in many of their disinformation projects. It was an expert in casting doubt on smoking-health research and health/environmental issues for its clients. Carlo’s own work for the tobacco industry was also primarily in the area of PR rather than in actual scientific research.]

Action Planned: [Excerpts from the document only]

In addition to the response materials already prepared by the SAG (see attached copies), we will work with the SAG to identify appropriate experts to comment in general on the science of DNA research, in addition to any experts SAG may be able to recommend to publicly comment on one or both of these particular studies.

[This does not support the claim that Carlo’s SAG was in any way an ‘independent body of experts, able to impartially examine scientific evidence.’]
Media Strategy: [Excepts only]

It is not in the interest of Motorola to be out in front on this issue because the implications of this research — if any — are industry-wide. Therefore, we suggest that the SAG be the primary media contact followed by the CTIA.
[They planned to put George Carlo in the front line of their defence. They didn’t need to ask him; they could just instruct him.]

It is critically important that third-party genetic experts, including respected authorities with no specific background in RF, be identified to speak on the following issues:

  • Problems with the Lai-Singh and Sarkar studies.
  • The health implications of DNA single-strand breaks.

[The specification of genetic specialists WITHOUT any background experience in Radio Frequency DNA research would guarantee that they would have a scientific spokesperson who would sprout the traditional line that microwaves did not have enough energy to break DNA strands.

The CTIA maintained this line for decades, and therefore continued to maintain that the Lai-Singh findings were fallacious. They simply ignored the fact that Dr Soma Sakar and a few other genetic researchers who had worked with radio frequency exposures had found evidence (such as increases in micronucleus defects) which suggested strongly that microwaves could damage chromasomes.

Note how they continued to maintain that the Lai-Singh work should be ignored until replicated… while ignoring the fact that it was, in itself, a semi-replication (with different assay techniques) of the Sakar study. Both independent studies had found DNA damage following low-level microwave exposures.]

We do not believe that Motorola should put anyone on camera. We must limit our corporate visibility and defer complex scientific issues to credible, qualified scientific experts.

We have developed a list of independent experts in this field and are in the process of recruiting individuals willing and able to reassure the public on these matters.

[Motorola clearly didn’t want to use their own own zero-credibility staff, or hire a scientists likely to admit the fact that others beside Lai and Singh had found DNA damage.]

SAG will be prepared to release Munro-Carlo memos, which touch on key points made in this material.

See page 13 Microwave News Jan 1997

The consequences of DNA breaks.

It is important to realise that, while the Lai-Singh research showed that microwaves at cellphone handset power levels could damage DNA, this does not translate into proof that cellphones will cause brain cancer.

Biological cells constantly need to repair damaged or faulty DNA and have efficient mechanisms for maintaining DNA integrity. So, at worst, the logic suggests that you’d expect higher rates of brain cancer from cellphone users (but rates are very low anyway, and the effects would only appear after many years of incubation, and then only with widespread cellphone use).

However the Lai-Singh research:

  • completely demolished the cellphone industry’s contention that microwaves couldn’t damage biological tissue without heating it
  • showed that the exposure standards which had been based on these ‘thermal assumption’ were false — so claims that a transmitter conformed to the ANSI or IEEE ‘safety exposure standards’ were equally suspect,
  • opened up many other adverse health-effects possibilities (other than brain cancer), and added weight to previously discounted research findings.
  • clearly indicated that substantial further research was needed to discover what was happening at this DNA/molecular level.
  • indirectly raised the possibility that EMF-based instruments might be developed as a form of therapy [Done in the late 2000s].

Lai and Singh were difficult to challenge scientifically because they were independent scientists at a state-funded university and they were widely acknowledged as the world experts in using comet-assay techniques.

This technique allowed them to see and measure chromasome damage in individual cells. But when they approached the WTR for funding, the CTIA stalled them for years. This effectively froze alternate funding from US government sources also, since the government research agencies expected the cellphone industry to pay for such work. Lai and Singh were therefore left in limbo.

In fact Lai and Singh only received token and highly controlled funding from the WTR for further work after many years of waiting and arguing. Another scientist, CK Chou, was then effectively given oversight of their work in a way which made them subservient to his determinations — and in the midst of the preparation for the study he left to work for Motorola.

Lai and Singh abandoned all attempts at dealing with Carlo, and wrote a furious letter which was countered by Carlo threatening a defamation action. He attempted to have Lai fired from Washington University. [See details later]

The CTIA Foundations
Here’s what the CTIA and Ketchum later said about the CTIA Foundation created at this time to improve the image of the industry:

The mission of the CTIA Foundation is to meet the challenges of the 21st century in areas that are crucial to American society; education, health care, and job creation/productivity, using innovative, groundbreaking applications of wireless technology.

Founded in 1993 on the 10th anniversary of the inauguration of wireless phone service, the CTIA Foundation For Wireless Telecommunications seeks out worthy projects that utilise wireless telecommunications technology for the benefit of their communities. As part of this effort, CTIA member companies make a fair share annual contribution to fund the work of the Foundation.

Through its hands-on support of worthy projects, the CTIA Foundation is showing the nation how wireless telecommunications can help solve society’s greatest problems and improve the quality of life for the American people.

[Source CTIA web-site long since disappeared.]

No one in the media heard anything more about this Foundation for a couple of decades. But Wikipedia now carries the news that CTIA policy issues include:

Kids & Wireless: Education is key to ensuring children and teens use cell phones in smart, safe, fair and responsible ways. CTIA and The Wireless Foundation developed the “Be Smart. Be Fair. Be Safe: Responsible Wireless Use” campaign in March 2010 to provide content for parents, educators and policymakers to help them teach kids about responsible mobile behavior, driving and eco-friendly initiatives.

So the CTIA Foundation appears to have morphed into “The Wireless Foundation” which is…

a 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on public interest and philanthropic programs and awards. This includes the joint effort with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the US Department of Justice to deliver AMBER Alerts to wireless phones.

1994 Dec 13: The scientists strike: Carlo was the key trainer at a CTIA public-relations seminar at San Diego. He was to later regret this appearance since it embroiled him in the Debbra Wright v. Motorola case and led to the year-long strike of the research scientists (and eventually to his fall out with the CTIA). A spokesman for the CTIA described the meeting as…

… talking about cellular tower siting and electromagnetic compatibility [EMC] issues. A lot of it was about how to deal with reporters who may have been led astray by litigation cases, who may not know the facts.

Debbra Wright, a real-estate manager with Bell Atlantic Mobile (owned by Motorola) who had just been diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, was also in attendance, and she remembers it as…

… an eye-opening meeting. Most of it was about how to control the media.

I had assumed that since the CTIA was supposed to have all this research, the science was what was going to be discussed. I was really surprised when I found out that the whole purpose of the CTIA was to keep the public from knowing that the studies hadn’t been done, to keep their attention away from the scientific process.

Carlo was a featured speaker, with two long presentations. Wright quotes Carlo as saying,

“We need to avoid having the Food and Drug Administration get involved in regulating us. This is bad news for us.”

During a discussion of how to divert media attention away from research on safety issues, she says that Carlo made these comments:

“Scientists are very dangerous. If you turn it over to the scientists, they will usually come back with more questions than answers….It is dangerous to allow reporters to report on studies.”

As a consequence, Debbra Wright decided to include both the CTIA and Dr George Carlo in her lawsuit.

“Originally I was just going to sue Motorola, but that’s when I decided that I had to sue the CTIA, too. They are hiding the truth.”

The complaint alleges that at CTIA seminars and workshops, “industry personnel are instructed on how to deceive and misrepresent the safety of the cellular portable telephones.”

Robert Kane, a Motorola engineer who had also contract brain cancer and decided to sue the company, was ejected from the symposium and later threatened by lawsuits for having taken away copies of some workshop documents.

Debbra Wright case
She was a real-estate manager working for Bell Atlantic Mobile, a subsidiary of Illinois-based Motorola. Since she worked for the cellphone industry she used her phone for between one and six hours a day between February 1988 and March 1994, at a time when costs normally limited personal use for most people.

Rather than trying to prove that the phones were harmful (there was little published research at this time) her case was mainly directed at the ‘conspiracy’ to withhold information as to potential for harm from their users. Her lawsuit alleges that the WTR and its peer review board

“were chosen by the defendants, controlled by them, and set up to frustrate and cover up the truth.”

She said the company had a duty-of-care to inform its users about the evidence implicating cellphones, and cited their attempts to discredit the Lai-Singh research and George Carlo’s training of cellphone staff at the San Diego seminar, as evidence of this failure.

1994 Dec 20: /E Towards the end of 1994 Carlo wrote the introduction to the CTIA’s Health and Safety Media Manual, saying:

… a concerted industry response succeeded in blunting unsubstantiated allegations about a link to brain cancer in early 1993.

Timetable of legal entities in WTR development
  • Feb 1993 – a three-man Scientific Advisory Group (SAG-CTR — Carlo, Munro and Guy) is established by the CTIA. John D Graham provides advice to the CTIA via the Advisory Board of Ketchum Public Relations. This SAG is originally to conduct a search of the literature only.
  • May 1993 – The 9-man Peer Review Board (PRB), is recruited by Carlo for the CTIA.
  • Nov 1994 – the Government Accountability Office pressures the CTIA to conduct some real independent research — otherwise the task will be handed to the FDA.
  • Jan 1995 – The name of the SAG is changed to Scientific Advisory Group on Wireless Technology (SAG-WT) This is still a three-man team, but it is supposedly audited by the HCRA-selected Peer Review Board (PRB) which is an expanded version of the previous PRB.
    • The term Wireless Technology Research (WTR) begins to be used as the name of the project, not as a corporate term.
  • Mar 1995 – the Government Accountability Office (GAO) forced the CTIA to create a distinct legal research entity with an escrow account. This became the WTR LLC.
  • Mar 1995 The beginning of the year-long scientists’ strike (Pacemaker research continued, however)
  • Apr 1995 – Wireless Technology Research LLC is created by the SAG under Carlo’s control and housed with his science-for-sale operation HES. The WTR is now a legally constituted entity “to provide for the enhanced financial management and administration of the scientific research program.”
  • June 1995 – The WTR issued an omnibus request for research proposals.
  • Aug 1996 – Dissatisfaction with the WTR boils over. Carlo is being attacked on all sides including by many in the cellphone industry. Louis Slesin of Microwave News says that “$17 million has been spent without getting a test-tube wet.”
  • Apr 1998 – The WTR officially ran out of contracted time and money. However the CTIA agreed to continue funding to complete the existing projects
  • Dec 1998 – The CTIA tells Carlo that it will not carry the WTR past the August deadline. Carlo maintains later that he was offered work on post-surveillance of cellphone research.
  • May 1999 – Carlo give an interview to the Washington Post which tips the bucket on the CTIA over its failure to support future research after the WTR had found ‘serious concerns’ with cellphone radiation.
  • July 1999 -The swan-song for WTR — Carlo’s ‘Colloquim’ held at Long-Beach California, to advise BEMS scientists of the results of WTR’s research efforts. Carlo has converted to the ‘non-thermal’ camp and is loudly promoting the need for further research.
  • Aug 1999 – The official demise of all CTIA support for the WTR.
  • Oct 1999 – The CTIA signs a research deal with the FDA and Carlo gives up trying to blackmail the CTIA into supporting further research. He suffers both a costly divorce and a ‘Damascene conversion’ to fear-mongering, and appears on TV complaining that cellphones were not guaranteed to be safe. He also publishes Wireless Phones and Your Health: A Consumer Self-Protection Guide for the Purchase and Safe Use of Wireless Phones as part of his “Consumer Empowerment Package on Wireless Phones” [mail-order].
  • Dec 1999 – Carlo [briefly] strikes up a business relationship with super-lawyer Peter Angelos to run class-action suits against the cellphone industry.