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Five nonprofit science and public health advocacy groups on Wednesday filed a citizen petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) alleging the agency is “flagrantly violating” a federal statute related to non-ionizing radiation from wireless devices.

The groups — led by Americans for Responsible Technology (ART), founded “to provide a presence in the District of Columbia for the growing number of grassroots organizations advocating for safe technology solutions in their communities” — demanded the FDA comply with a federal law that requires the agency to take certain actions to protect the public from unnecessary exposure to radiation from electronic products.

According to ART, Congress in 1968 passed Public Law 90-602, which declared “the public health and safety must be protected from the dangers of electronic product radiation” and prescribed in 21 USC 360ii Program of Control certain activities that the FDA is required to carry out to mitigate and address.

Other petitioners include Grassroots Environmental Education, Consumers for Safe Cell Phones, California Brain Tumor Association, Manhattan Neighbors for Safer Telecommunications, and four individuals who said they experienced negative financial, health and emotional damage due to wireless radiation.

The petitioners said the agency has failed to obey the law — and consequently has put U.S. citizens at increased risk of harm from wireless radiation.

“This isn’t complicated,” said Doug Wood, ART’s founder and director, in a press release. “The FDA has a clear and unambiguous legal obligation to carry out certain activities designed to reduce the public’s exposure to radiation from all kinds of electronic products, including cell phones, routers, laptops, tablets, and wireless utility meters.”

“FDA is ignoring the law as if it doesn’t exist,” Wood added.

Julian Gresser, an attorney, former visiting professor at Harvard Law School, and chairman and president of Big Heart Technologies, agreed. Gresser said in the press release, “This is not an opinion or a disagreement over science. This is black letter law.”

Gresser added:

“Congress has recognized the serious risks to public health of non-ionizing radiation since 1968.

“FDA has a clear and unequivocal mandate from Congress, and for more than fifty years the agency has simply pretended that the law doesn’t exist.

“This violates the fundamental purpose of the nation’s premiere public health agency. It is a deep civil and human rights issue.”

The petitioners called on the FDA commissioner to work together with the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to “fully execute, implement, fulfill and carry out” their administrative obligations established by federal law regarding public exposure to non-ionizing radiation.

For instance, the petitioners said the law requires the FDA to evaluate how the public — including children in schools — is exposed to radiation.

“There are no public reports of any FDA inspections of schools to measure cumulative or aggregate exposure levels in busy classrooms, or the effects of exposure on students, teachers, and staff,” the petitioners noted.

FDA ‘conveys a false and inaccurate sense of security and safety to anxious parents’

The law also requires the FDA to conduct and support research and activities designed to minimize wireless radiation emissions and people’s exposure to them.

However, instead of providing information about the “large and robust body of developing science” about potential biological harm from exposure, the petitioners said, the FDA’s website “conveys a false and inaccurate sense of security and safety to anxious parents who may have concerns about the health and safety of their children.”

The FDA’s “Children and Teens and Cell Phones” webpage states that current scientific evidence does not show a danger to any users of cellphones from radiofrequency energy, including children and teenagers.

The petitioners called the FDA’s statement “blatantly” false.

“There is current scientific evidence showing a danger to users of cell phones,” they said.

The FDA in 1999 asked the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) to study cellphone radiation. When the NTP in 2018 completed the $30 million dollar study, its results showed clear evidence that electromagnetic radiation is associated with cancer and DNA damage.

“FDA may not like the results … but the agency does not serve the interest of public health by ignoring or discounting important scientific studies — including its own study showing an elevated risk of harm,” the petitioners wrote.

Additionally, the FDA is required to develop and promulgate techniques for reducing these exposures — but the agency has not developed or promoted any such techniques, the petitioners said.

Odette Wilkens, president and general counsel for Wired Broadband, Inc., a nonprofit that advocates for hard-wired high-speed internet — such as fiber optics — as a “superior technology compared to wireless communications,” commended the petitioners for initiating “this much needed process.”

Wilkens, a technology attorney for more than 20 years, told The Defender her nonprofit plans to file additional comments to the petition. “The FDA should be held accountable for its legal obligations to protect public health,” she said.