Monday, 17 June 2019

Government EME research funding not influenced by mobiles industry

SAR testingThe Australian mobile phone industry has welcomed the announcement of $5 million of Federal Government funding for independent research into the possible health effects of mobile phone signals over the next five years.

But the claim, by anti-wireless campaigner Don Maisch, that the telecommunications industry has “control over cellphone research in Australia” is completely incorrect, AMTA Chief Executive Officer Chris Althaus has said.
“While the Australian network carriers do provide $1 million a year to the Federal Government’s research projects by way of a levy – the allocation of those funds is completely up to the discretion of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC),” Mr Althaus said.
Mr Althaus said telecommunications companies in Australia support NHMRC research through a specific hypothecated electromagnetic energy (EME) research levy on the annual licence fees paid by the network carriers to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
The ACMA collects the industry levy and the NHMRC allocates funds to scientific research programs and projects on EME where they see fit - such as the recent announcement of funds awarded to establish two separate Centers of Research Excellence.
Some funds are also allocated for Australian participation in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) EMF Project and for community education via the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).
“The Australian research program provides funds for studies on EME human health issues of relevance and interest to the Australian community,” ARPANSA said in a fact sheet ‘Australian Government EME Program’.
“Funding of all projects is based on scientific merit, the ability of projects to meet the objectives of the EME program and a consideration of recommended priorities for EME research identified by the WHO. Applications for EME research funding are subject to peer review and grants are awarded to the most competitive applications.”
AMTA estimates more than $15 million has been committed from the industry levy towards this research program and ongoing public education since the levy arrangements began in 1996.
In an interview at the 2012 science and wireless conference, Professor Rodney Croft – who last year was awarded a $2.5 million grant to set up the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research (ACEBR) - addressed concerns about the independence of the new research centre and the source of their funding.
“It is true that the government does put a tax on the telecommunications industry to get money to spend on research, but that money goes to the National Health and Medical Research Council, its independently allocated according to competitive grant rounds, that really are as independent as anything could be,” Prof Croft said.
“It really just comes down to the WHO have proposed a research agenda in 2010, the NHMRC have arranged a number of quite eminent researchers to independently evaluate competitive proposals… It really is completely independent.”
The Australian Centre for RF Bioeffects Research (ACRBR), at Swinburne University, which ran from 2004 to 2011, was also funded from the levy on industry in Australia. 
Published 6 November 2013

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