Once again it is necessary to correct the misinformation which you are giving your readers regarding the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association’s efforts relative to Wireless Telecommunications Research L.L.C. Your May 27 story, “Research fund may fall $4M short of goal,” is wrong, principally because it ignores information which I gave you during several discussions on the topic.
Contrary to your headline, the funding of WTR is not behind plan. You explained to me your logic behind the statement-that three years into a $25 million program, CTIA should have proportionally contributed $15 million. I explained to you that the program was not proportionally funded, and never was planned to be so. For instance, the first year of the program was a review of previous research and the development of a plan of what other research may be helpful. Not only didn’t that activity cost $5 million, it was that first year’s activity which arrived at the $25 million number. I also explained that the manufacturer-carrier assessment to fund CTIA’s activities, including the research, didn’t raise anywhere near $5 million in that first year. The plan was that as the program grew, so would the funding. That plan is being followed.
What is really amazing about your article, however, is that you quote me directly refuting your headline-“It’s going to be $25 million at the end of the program, said CTIA President Thomas Wheeler”-but you bury that quote in the middle of the article, and ignore it so that you can make the “fund may fall $4 million short of goal” claim. How is it possible to say something “may fall short” when it is on plan to be funded at the full amount?
The numbers you cited also are not valid. You reported, for instance, “CTIA budgeted to have deposited about $10.4 million into WTR’s blind escrow account for research on cancer and pacemaker interference*…*by the end of fiscal year 1996.” I explained to you that the number was, actually, higher. By the end of fiscal 1996 (May 31), CTIA will have deposited $12.6 million into the WTR (and its predecessor, the Scientific Advisory Group) account. For the record, WTR reports that it has spent $10.4 million of the $12.6 million on bioeffects research and the remainder on non-bioeffects work (such as pacemakers).
To repeat myself, CTIA sent to the WTR blind escrow account for FY ’96 an amount greater than the proportional $5 million, and the budget for FY ’97, which goes to the board of directors June 5, also is greater than the proportional $5 million. We will fund a five-year, $25 million program just like we said we would.
You also have misinformed your readers by suggesting that, somehow, scientific dollars are being spent to “convince consumers that the popular handsets are safe.” Let’s get something straight, there is no credible scientific evidence that wireless phones are unsafe. It is disappointing that you would suggest that we shouldn’t make that statement and that you would take out of context and inappropriately apply a three-year-old Food and Drug Administration statement to buttress your suggestion that I should not be repeating the common scientific wisdom about the safety of these phones.
Similarly, your statement, “No court has ruled against a cellular firm in any of the cancer lawsuits so far” hardly does justice to what has really happened in court. Your readers have a right to know, for instance, that the lawsuit which started this whole fracas, the Reynard case, was thrown out of court as junk science after failing to produce any credible evidence linking wireless phones and health effects.
Despite the fact there is no linkage between wireless phones and bioeffects, print and electronic news outlets continue to dredge up the issue. So long as that happens it is our responsibility to set the record straight, and we spend CTIA funds doing just that. You are wrong, however, to suggest that funding of such information efforts is, somehow, a drain on the bioeffects funding or even of a scale which could have a material impact on the research budget.
Thomas E. Wheeler
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