The 4G network, progress and the death of bees

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The general press has widely reported during these few weeks of vacations, the fourth generation mobile telephony is taking root in Belgium

This decisive step in our race for progress is being taken thanks to the already well-established operators Mobistar, Proximus and Base, to which a fourth operator has been added.

Thanks to Mobistar, Antwerp will already benefit from a pilot network, while 600 additional sites will be equipped by 2013. Proximus is testing its network in 9 cities in the country (including Liège, Namur, Mons and Wavre) and Base in 2 Flemish cities.

If we forget the few thousands of backward-looking and grumpy people who signed a petition denouncing the risk of a strong increase in electromagnetic pollution(1), due in particular to the entry on the market of a fourth operator, there would be every reason to be happy. At least, that is the tone clearly displayed by most journalists. Some even welcome the voluntarism of the operators and deplore the obstacles to progress posed in Brussels by the existence of an exposure standard that they consider to be so severe as to prevent them from carrying out their projects.

But in fact, what kind of progress are we talking about?

Thanks to the 3G network and smartphones (sorry, better to say Smartphones), we can watch TV, surf the Internet, send videos .… In short, to be permanently inserted in this vast network of image consumption in which modernity invites us.

But, because there is an essential but, 3G, in case some people missed it, is slow, much too slow! With 4G, the data transfer speed will be ten times higher:

- Playing online, an essential activity everyone will agree, can be practiced anywhere with total comfort;

- watch a stage of the Tour de France on your Smartphone, idem ;

- more serious: the images of the surveillance cameras installed in the cities will be able to be exploited with a much better efficiency by the police services! We see it: the 4G network will provide a  » host of new services « , as stated by Mrs. Evelyne Huytebroeck(2), Minister in charge of the environment in the Brussels Region. For her, it is not a question of contesting such a promising technological development, but rather of  » ensuring that the balance between the health of populations and economic development is respected ». It therefore calls on operators to prove that the 4G network cannot be implemented in compliance with the current standard.

One thing is certain at this stage: the pressure from operators to relax the current standard in Brussels will become more and more explicit, especially since in Flanders and Wallonia, this same standard (3V/m) applies separately to each operator and not globally, which is unjustifiable.

Opponents of 4G development (the cranky and the backward) are right to fear an increase in electromagnetic smog. This increase is inevitable. Indeed, it is hard to see how the multiplication of polluters could not increase pollution!

Is it a progress for the life of each of us to accelerate the transmission of images by cell phone?

Mrs. Huytebroeck, while accepting and even welcoming the validity of the operators’ approach, will have to bow in the end.

However, beforehand, there are questions that deserve to be debated. Is it a progress for the life of each of us to accelerate the transmission of images by cell phone?

Is it progress to be permanently assigned to the role of image consumer?

All connected, all the time, and condemned to tap and view, prisoners of a vast network, is this our future?

Do those who dismiss these questions out of hand, convinced that progress cannot be stopped, consider that it is legitimate to impose on everyone the deleterious effects of an increasingly present electromagnetic pollution?

Contrary to the claims of the operators who denounce the excessive severity of the Brussels standard, it is indeed a compromise, as Ms. Huytebroeck admits, between health and economic development. It is not too severe, … it is not severe enough.

Scientific and epidemiological data have indeed accumulated in recent years showing worrying biological effects for living beings of exposure to pulsed electromagnetic radiation, emitted by cell phones (even if they are intelligent) and by relay antennas.

Since 2004, with the publication of the Reflex study, commissioned by the European Commission, it has been known that pulsed wave radiation in the microwave range causes damage to DNA and chromosomes. These genotoxic effects already occur at exposure levels (0.6 V/m) 25 times lower than the limit value adopted in Brussels.

Since the year 2000, many scientists recommend 0.6V/m as an exposure limit value. This proposal, taken up by the Bioinitiative Working Group in 2007, was endorsed by the European Environment Agency … but ignored by the European Commission, always anxious to protect the interests of the industry.

Recently, studies carried out at the University of Brussels have shown severe behavioral disturbances in ant colonies exposed to … 1V/m.

According to Dr. Ulrich Warnke, an internationally renowned biologist from Saarland University, who has been studying the effects of electromagnetic fields on humans and wildlife for more than 30 years, electrosmog, which has taken on an unprecedented dimension in recent years, produces a significant misinformation of the natural functional systems of species, which thus lose their bearings. According to him, the disappearance of bees in Europe and the United States (colony collapse disorder) could be explained by this type of mechanism.

Neither ants nor bees can be qualified a priori as grumpy or backward-looking; like hypersensitive humans, they are the first victims of a progress that is so lightly celebrated by the unconditional supporters of technoscience.

Paul Lannoye

Notes et références
  2. Voir « La norme 4G se déploiera également à Bruxelles », sur
  3. Le Soir, 23 & 24 juin 2012

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