In March 2020, Test-Achats, an organization that publishes a magazine in which the quality of various consumer products is evaluated — without ever questioning the latter — published an article on 5G entitled « Dangerous, 5G? »(1). The questioning was misleading: a true plea for this technology, denying the numerous scientific studies warning of its harmfulness and the multiple calls for a moratorium, Test-Achats reduced these doubts to « rumors [qui] have a knack for unjustly raising concern ». The reactions were not long in coming.

As a magazine whose business is based largely on the publication of testings on high-tech objects, Test-Achats was not well placed to give an impartial opinion. But it’s a long way from writing a propaganda text for 5G, which will be taken up by daily newspapers to support their position(2) or in the answers of certain ministers to concerned citizens(3).

Under its first title  » Here is why there is nothing to worry about « , Test-Achats argues that « after examining all the international scientific research « , there is nothing to worry about, developing in four points their argumentation(4), concluding with a paragraph entitled  » Still not reassured ? « . Thus, Test-Achats tacitly acknowledges its bias, because studies highlighting the dangers of 5G, there have been, as well as the major risk to biodiversity(5) that it represents. Also gone is the International Appeal against 5G. Would Test-Achats have some interest in not telling the truth. Some readers thought so.

Letter from a reader to Test-Achats

« We are considering unsubscribing as a result of the « 5G » article in the Health Test . 156, of an unheard-of lightness and suspicious, to say the least. Have you dug into the details of the possible direct and indirect links, past and present, with the world of operators, of Mrs. Dillen and, above all, of Guy Vandenbosch, to whom she refers with surprising caution, as well as of the KU Leuven in general (lobbying, private/public partnerships, etc.)? »

Their answer: tongue in cheek and blah blah blah

Dear subscriber, we take note of your reaction and certainly understand it. Please find below the response of our health test services following the reactions, publications and opinions generated by our article on 5G: « In some emblematic and often particularly complex issues, particularly those affecting public health, it is normal that there is debate. Our association has been rooted in democratic debate and contradiction for 60 years, but always on a scientific basis (especially in the areas of health and food, but also in domestic security or sustainability…). We understand, to a certain extent, that there are differing opinions and we recognize that we do not have the best knowledge on the subject, any more than our detractors do. A position in such a delicate matter is not set in stone, but, in accordance with our principles of independence and expertise, we must also avoid repeating what some people would like to hear. It must be developed in a coherent way. Of course, the sanitary crisis of this year 2020 makes things even more complicated and the attitude of one or the other operator wanting to force the dam irritates even more in a part of the public opinion. We understand that too. Contrary to what is claimed based on impressions and pretences, we have not chosen the side of technology or of the powerful lobbies that we have been facing ourselves on other grounds for many years. Our side is the protection of consumers and their health. Contrary to what some people say, we base ourselves on studies carried out at the international level, in particular by health authorities who have analyzed several thousand pages of literature and scientific studies, avoiding the cherry picking (using only the arguments that support your objective), which is more the work of our detractors. We also consulted external experts. It should be noted that this same approach is shared by many consumer organizations throughout Europe. In a very Manichean way, these detractors target those who do not think like them. If you don’t agree with us, you must be against us… The enemy being identified, their own cause is passed over in silence, making us forget the fundamentals: a public health objective, the role of public authorities in setting standards, the obligations of operators in terms of transparency and quality, the need to advance the democratic debate,

… And yet, we ask for nothing more than the guarantee of these fundamentals. So what fight for what cause with what weapons? And the enemy will be unmasked. You can also visit our website at www.testachats.be, where you will find much more information. Remaining at your disposal, please accept the assurance of our distinguished sentiments

Not convinced, the reader sends back :

I am surprised that there is no answer to the specific question I asked on 4/5/20. All I get is a standard answer of a general nature, rather conventional and boilerplate, on the issue of supporters/detractors…; disappointing. Some considerations on my part:

  • some of your detractors may be practicing cherry pickingBut it has become clear, thanks in particular to whistleblowers and journalists with an acute professional conscience, that the industries responsible for many years of terrible sanitary and environmental damage and millions of deaths worldwide (tobacco, asbestos, automobile, chemical, industrial junk food, …) have done, are doing and will do for a long time to come, without any scruples, even more: disregarding the precautionary principle, practicing the massivelobbying , instrumentalizing, manipulating, conditioning by advertising bombardments (including in the public service media), stipendiating (including some experts, political decision-makers, …), even outright lying (dieselgate, a.o.); then, what is the best: the possible cherry picking with the main objective of applying the health precautionary principle and therefore protecting health, or strategies like these with the main objective of creating and accumulating maximum profits? Are we really to believe that the operators who are the staunch and self-interested supporters of 5G would be the only ones to act in a way that is truly concerned with the health of citizens? Neither the universities (under-funded by the public authorities, e.g. in terms of research, and increasingly infiltrated by commercial operators and therefore dependent on them for their operations) nor associations such as yours are safe from the aforementioned actions…
  • as for the democratic fundamentals you are talking about — to be respected by your detractors and the industries/operators and commercials of all kinds … — It is precisely in many officially democratic regimes, based on these fundamentals, that the damage I am talking about above has been caused for a long time — even though some legal brakes in principle exist -… … because of the non-respect of elementary democratic principles and legal rules/standards by those responsible for this damage; and, too often, no real sanction is taken. It is in the heart of our Belgian democracy that a telecom operator can quietly decide to introduce 5G in several municipalities, under the nose of the political decision-makers, while the citizens are massively opposed to it (87%, unless I am mistaken). Will there be a strong reaction and/or sanction against this operator? I doubt it…
  • In Belgium, but also in many other democratic countries, the trust of citizens in the political world is at its lowest (only 20% have confidence!) and their confidence in the traditional media and journalists is in sharp decline. This deserves a deep reflection, a.o. as to the reasons: would too much powerlessness/allegiance towards the actions of the « business world » (a.o.), be part of it?

Sincerely. Patrick Buyle

He did not get any answer…


Notes et références
  1. https://www.test-achats.be/hightech/telecom/dossier/5g-dangers
  2. Notamment, « 5G : le “vrai du faux” ou comment sortir de la guerre de tranchées », La Libre, jeudi 30 avril.
  3. « À ce sujet, comme il n’est pas toujours facile de distinguer le vrai du faux, nous vous invitons à consulter le dossier de Test-Achats, qui a répertorié quelques fake news circulant pour le moment sur internet : https://www.test-achats.be/ ». Réponse du ministre Alain Maron à un courrier, avril 2020.
  4. En résumé : aucune preuve scientifique ; les avancées technologiques réduisent l’intensité des ondes ; nous collons moins souvent notre smartphone contre notre visage ; les normes sont très sévères en Belgique.
  5. « La 5G, un enterrement de première classe pour la biodiversité », http://grappe-belgique.be/spip.php?article3219
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