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French RF Research Program To Cut Its Links to the Mobile Phone Industry

July 29  A consensus has emerged in France that the national RF research program should cut its ties to the mobile phone industry. Manufacturers and operators would however continue to help pay for health and environmental research. This new outlook emerged from a month-long (April 23 - May 25) review (round table) of government policies on RF radiation with the participation of no fewer than three cabinet ministers -for health, environment and the digital economy.

The Foundation for Health and Radiofrequencies, founded in 2005, has run the French RF research and public information efforts under a five-year mandate and a budget of 4.8 million (~US$6.7 million), with equal contributions from government and industry. It has sponsored 26 projects including the French groups working on the Interphone and MOBI-Kids studies.

Now, the future of the Foundation is in doubt, at least under its present structure. In its final report, the members of the round table affirm the need for more research and for a research-coordinating group, but criticize the Foundation for having industry representatives - but none from citizen groups- on its Board of Directors. Alcatel-Lucent, Bouygues Telecom, Orange France, SFR and TDF all have seats of the board.

At the same time, the report proclaims the government's commitment to nurture a culture of precaution, to increase public information and to review health standards. It makes a special point that the needs of those who are electrosensitive must be addressed. The report covers a lot of other ground, notably policies on mobile phone towers and on the use of phones by children. They are all summarized in the government's ten-point program.