In 1996 the World Health Organization began what it said was a program “to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects of EMF in the frequency range from 0 to 300 GHz‚” (EMF Project). However, the project was corrupted from the start because it was controlled by the power- and cell-phone industries in the industrialized countries. The person placed in charge of the program by the industries was Michael Repacholi, who had been known for more than 16 years to be a paid consultant and spokesman for the companies responsible for producing EMF pollution. It was not realistic to expect that he would conduct an open and honest inquiry, and his performance in office has been even more miserable than could have been anticipated based on what was known about his personal views at the time he was appointed.
During the time he worked at WHO, Repacholi dealt almost exclusively with experts on the payroll of cell telephone companies and power companies. He produced a series of reports and evaluations that exonerated these industries from any responsibility for human disease produced by the electromagnetic fields that they generated and dispersed into the environment. Throughout Repacholi’s career at WHO, scientists who disagreed with EMF-industry positions, as well as members of the public who were adversely impacted by WHO EMF policies, were structurally excluded from WHO EMF adjudicatory committees.
The WHO scientific reviews of EMFs were star-chamber processes in which only pro-industry spokesmen were heard, and the results of the processes were foreordained. Repacholi gave many speeches between 1995-2006, but was never held accountable in any serious dialogue or debate, and was never required to provide any justification for his extreme position.
I saw Repacholi at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Bioelectromagnetics Society (BEMS), which was held in Cancun, Mexico, June 11-15, 2006. It was the first time I had seen him since he testified for the power industry in Australia in 1990. The Mobile Manufacturers Forum, which consists of the world’s major manufacturers of cellular telephones were “Gold Sponsors” of the BEMS meeting, and Repacholi was invited to give a talk entitled “Results from 10 Years of WHO’s International EMF Project,” which he delivered at a plenary session at the meeting. Small children may believe that the invitation to Repacholi to present the talk was unrelated to the “Gold” sponsorship status of the companies that Repacholi has so vigorously supported for the last decade—I do not believe it.
Repacholi’s talk was a paean to the activities at the WHO that he guided and controlled. He was proud of the fact that he had successfully stemmed the tide of concern regarding the propensity of environmental EMFs to produce cancer and other human diseases, and had established the principle that man-made environmental EMFs were harmless. He touted model legislation that he had drafted, and said that he hoped it would be enacted by various governments so that the fact that environmental fields were safe would be enshrined in law.
At the end of his talk I rose and said, “Dr. Repacholi, I’m Andrew Marino from Shreveport, Louisiana. When you say that WHO assesses research about EMFs, can you tell us exactly who at WHO does that assessing?”
He began his answer by describing a formal process for considering scientific evidence, but without naming names. I interrupted him. “Perhaps I wasn’t clear. I didn’t ask what the process was from a procedural point-of-view. I would like to know the names of the human beings who make the judgments regarding the safety of environmental EMFs.”
Again, his answer was evasive in the sense that it dealt with process, and did not name names. I interrupted again and said, “I am trying to get at the names of the individuals, the human beings who make the judgments that are contained in the WHO reports. Will you please tell me their names?”
For a third time, he refused to answer, and for good reason. Any names he listed would have been immediately recognizable as paid consultants or employees of the EMF-producing industries, including himself.
Because of his bully pulpit, Repacholi is responsible for many cases of human disease. Despite his poor training and inexperience in research, he has lectured the world for the last 10 years regarding the health risks of EMFs. He seems devoid of any sense of justice. What can one say about a man who encourages human beings, including young children, to chronically irradiate their brains with electromagnetic fields while telling them that they are safe?
At the end of July, 2006, Repacholi retired from his position at WHO as dictator of EMFs. What will happen to him? Probably, he will be rewarded by his masters as they reward any servant whose actions pleased them, Mays Swicord for example. Swicord worked for the Food and Drug Administration for many years where he ostensibly sought to protect the radiological health of the citizens of the United States, but actually had a greater interest in protecting the companies who manufacture microwave ovens. After he left FDA he became the head of research at Motorola. In that capacity he has consistently extolled the safety of his company's cell telephones. I predict the same future for Repacholi.
Repacholi announced in Cancun that his successor would be T. Emilie van Deventer, who has no experience whatsoever in the area of the biological effects of electromagnetic fields. She is an electrical engineer who has never even claimed knowledge or experience in the subject matter about which she will now be in a position to advise the entire world.