PLOT newsmagazine, issue #7, features an investigative piece on Gro Harlem Brundlant, former head of the WHO who acknowledged she was electrosensitive.
The Laughing stock – and the pursuit of Gro
Written by Thomas Ergo.
Published April 2012 in Norwegian newsmagazine PLOT, issue #7.
”Is there a cell phone switched-on in this room?”. Gro Harlem Brundtland looked straight at the journalist. They were in an office in the Directorate of Health in Oslo in march 2002. The former Prime Minister, now Director-General of the World Health Organisation and with permanent residency in Geneva, was on a quick visit. On that occasion, the 62-year old was to be interviewed by the newspaper Dagbladet about the war against the tobacco industry. But that day, Gro was up against a completely different industry. The things she said would cause international attention. The journalist had become aware of rumors that the WHO boss was allergic to radiation. Gro confirmed it. “It’s not the sound, but the waves I react to. And the sensitivity has become so severe that I react to mobile phones closer than approx. four metres” Gro said.
Initially she had felt a strong heating around the ear. “But the symptoms progressed into nausea and headaches each time I talked on a cell phone”.
And now she could sense that a cell phone was switched on in the room. The journalists phone was off. The newspaper photographer snatched his phone out of his jacket. Also switched off… No! wait a minute. It was just muted. The phone was still switched on.
Gro had attempted to cut down on mobile phone conversations. That didn’t help. Everyone working at the WHO in 2002 had mobiles. She was surrounded.
“To avoid suspicion of hysteria”, Gro said. “Just so that no one should think that this was something I imagined, I performed many tests: I had people come into my office with a cell phone hidden in a purse or pocket. Without my knowledge of it being switched on or off, we tested how it affected me. I have always reacted whenever the phone has been switched on. So there is no doubt.”. Therefore, mobile phones were banned around Gro. Norways own “mother”, the great former prime minister and WHO’s top chief was electro-hypersensitive.
Sitting in one of the hundreds of offices in the WHO headquarters in Geneva was the 57-year old Australian Michael Repacholi. He could not believe what he was reading. News of Gro’s electro-hypersensitivity went around the world. Repacholi was the architect behind the recommended exposure guidelines that guaranteed the world’s population that mobile phone radiation is harmless. He was the leader of WHO’s – and the world’s – largest research project on cell phones and health. His message was always: No health effects have been proven. No reason to worry. No reason to issue any warnings.
And now his boss was saying that she “didn’t yet have enough scientific evidence” to warn the world against mobile phones. In two to three years time, WHO’s large research project, Interphone, would provide better answers Gro stated. “But I do understand the scientists who warn” Gro said. “Some people develop sensitivities towards electricity and radiation from equipment like mobile phones and computers. Whether this sensitivity can lead serious health problems like cancer or other diseases, we don’t know yet. But I do believe that we should implement the precautionary principle, especially when it comes to children”.
Repacholi was shocked. He had been steamrolled. Ridiculed. Something had to be done. And he had an idea what to do.
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