Health being sacrificed for 5G, says petitioner

An image from the cross-border digital testbed for autonomous vehicles launch on 3 April (Photo: Nader Ghavami)

An image from the cross-border digital testbed for autonomous vehicles launch on 3 April (Photo: Nader Ghavami)

Petition 1239, which opened on 5 April, had reached over 1,550 signatures by 29 April. 

The writer of the text said the petition’s aim was “preserving the health of citizens”, adding: “Our body is already exposed every day to all kinds of waves, mistreated by different pollutants in the air, or by elements found in our food and drinks.”

The petition is timely, given that the cross-border digital testbed for autonomous vehicles officially launched in early April, spanning parts of Luxembourg, Germany and France. The testbed would allow for vehicles to interpret data received from the environment, but the speed required for such technology requires 5G, which is being trialed on the testbed. The project's total budget is €17m.

While 5G networks have been hailed by some for their speed and coverage, plus their ability to provide the infrastructure required for carrying huge amounts of data and powering technology behind the Internet of Things, others are concerned with the heavy financial burdens associated with their implementation, not to mention their potential health hazards. 

At the end of 2017, for example, over 180 scientists and doctors from 36 countries warned of the environmental and health risks linked with increased exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) in an appeal to the EU. Since then the number of signatories has risen to over 240 scientists in 40 countries. Among the concerns made by the group are an increased risk of cancer, negative impacts on the reproductive system, neurological disorders and memory issues and genetic damage.  

“It is not acceptable that our health is exposed and sacrificed in the name of technological progress, or that our health is simply sacrificed in the name of an absurd race to know who will be the first to adopt a new technology without first having studied it and examined the consequences of it on the environment,” the writer of petition 1239 stated. He also made the case that the costs of these consequences would have an impact on the budget of the national health insurer.

Petition 1239 closes for signatures on 17 May. It will be debated in parliament if it manages to get the required minimum of 4,500 signatures.