New study links cell phone tower radiation to diabetes

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Updated 28 December 2015

New study links cell phone tower radiation to diabetes

RIYADH: A renowned professor of King Saud University (KSU) here has warned of radiation danger from cell phone towers, saying that the radiation emissions from towers can cause many health hazards because of their dense installations and unscientific proliferation.
In a new study, Prof. Sultan Ayoub Meo, a professor at KSU’s College of Medicine, has for the first time proved that the radiation from towers also causes diabetes mellitus.
Sultan, whose research findings on radiation from mobile phone base station towers (MPBST) has been published in the “International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health”, a reputable Swiss science journal, said that “this is the first study added in the global science literature about radiation and its link with type 2 diabetes mellitus.”
The study is based on the effects of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Filed Radiation (RF-EMFR) generated by MPBSTs on hemoglobin.
Sultan’s new study has also raised a question mark over the safety of cell phone towers in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East countries. It is interesting to note here that the use of mobile phones has markedly increased among both gender and all age groups in the Kingdom and across the world during the last two decades. He said that “there are about 7.3 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, and this figure is more than the world’s population.” Spelling out the main findings of his study, Sultan told Arab News in an exclusive interview that “radiation generated by mobile phones and their base stations towers ranges between 400 MHz and 3 GHz.”
Mobile phone companies, Sultan said, installed towers in residential and commercial areas including on/near school buildings, which has stirred up widespread public concern about the hazards of RF-EMF radiation.
He also said that the radiation emanating from towers causes many other health hazards like headache, depression, high blood pressure and sleep disorders besides damaging nervous, cardio-vascular as well as reproductive systems.  

The KSU professor said that about 382 million people globally are suffering from diabetes mellitus, and this number is expected to surge to 592 million by 2035 as per the data shared by the International Diabetic Federation. “In 2014 alone, a total of 4.9 million people died due to the complications of diabetes mellitus,” said Sultan, adding that this deadly disease took the life of one individual every seven seconds.  
In this new research study, which for the first time discovered the link between cell tower radiation and diabetes; Sultan and his colleagues selected two different elementary schools in Riyadh region.  
The team led by Sultan selected 159 apparently healthy students (96 from one school and 63 from another school) of the same age, gender, nationality, regional, cultural and socio-economic status.
Blood samples were collected from all the students and the HbA1c was analyzed.  The team found that the students, who were exposed to high RF-EMF generated by MPBS had significantly higher HbA1c than the students who were exposed to low RF-EMF.


Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

Updated 15 min 55 sec ago

Saudi pursuit of ‘green Kingdom’ goal gets a boost

  • Agreement between agriculture ministry and Dubai's ICBA aimed at conserving natural resources
  • Kingdom's biosaline agriculture research and systems stands to benefit from ICBA's expertise

DUBAI: Agricultural development and environmental sustainability in Saudi Arabia will receive a boost in the coming years, thanks to a new agreement between the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai and the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

The agreement aims to enable Saudi Arabia to achieve its goal of preservation and sustainable management of its natural resources by raising the quality of biosaline agriculture research and systems.

The ministry says that the agreement will make use of the ICBA’s expertise in capacity development besides agricultural and environmental research, especially in the fields of vegetation development, combating desertification and climate change adaptation.

“It also includes training programs for Saudi technicians and farmers,” the ministry said. “In addition, it will localize, implement and develop biosaline agriculture research and production systems for both crops and forestation, which contributes to environmental and agricultural integration.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, the ICBA’s director general, told Arab News: “The agreement had been in the making for about two years. That was when we were approached by the Saudi government.”

Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, ICBA Director General, at the center's Quinoa fields in Dubai. (Supplied photo)

She said: “We put forward a proposal to demonstrate how the ICBA can help the Saudi government to implement its Green Kingdom Initiative, through which the ministry is trying to restore green coverage in the country and revive old conservation practices.”

Geographical features and climatic conditions very greatly from one part of the country to the other.

In the past, experimentation with such crops as potatoes, wheat and alfalfa proved detrimental to the Kingdom’s environment and natural resources due to faster rates of groundwater withdrawal.

“The ministry wanted to put a halt to over-abstraction of water, so they went through different policies,” Elouafi said.

“They made sure, for example, that farmers stopped producing wheat because about 2,400 liters of water is consumed to produce 1 kg of wheat. It was a huge amount,” she added.

“The new strategy is to find more appropriate crops for the farming community, which is quite large in the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia has been trying to grow its own food on a large scale since the 1980s. 

The objective of the Green Kingdom Initiative is to reduce the agricultural sector’s water demand by finding alternatives to thirsty crops.

The agreement will require the ICBA, over the next five years, to build for Saudi Arabia a new biosaline agriculture sector. 

As part of this shift, cultivation of a number of crops, notably quinoa, pearl millet and sorghum, will be piloted in high-salinity regions and then scaled up.

“The crops did very well in the UAE,” Elouafi said. “We’re looking at Sabkha regions, which have very high salinity and wetlands, and are on the ministry’s environmental agenda.”

Another objective is “smart” agriculture, which will involve raising water productivity, controlling irrigation water consumption and changing farming behavior.

Elouafi said that getting farmers in the Kingdom to stop cultivating wheat took some time as they had become accustomed to heavy government subsidies. In 2015, wheat production was phased out, followed by potatoes a year later and then alfalfa. 

“Farmers were provided everything to the point where they got used to a very good income and a very easy system,” she said.

“Now farmers are being asked to start producing something else, but the income won’t be the same, so it’s very important at this stage that the ministry has a plan and it’s fully understood.”

The agreement envisages preparation of proposals for ministry projects that involve plant production, drought monitoring, development of promising local crop and forestation varieties, and conservation of plant genetic resources.

“We’re also discussing capacity building because the ministry is big and has many entities. Because Saudi Arabia is a large country and has the capacity to meet some of its food requirements internally, what’s required is a better understanding of the country’s natural capabilities in terms of production of the crops it needs, like certain cereals,” Elouafi said.

“The way the authorities are going about it right now is more organized and more holistic. They’re trying to plan it properly.”

Elouafi said that having a better understanding of Saudi Arabia’s water constraints and managing the precious resource is essential.

 

Although almost the entire country is arid, there is rainfall in the north and along the mountain range to the west, especially in the far southwest, which receives monsoon rains in summer.

 

Sporadic rain may also occur elsewhere. Sometimes it is very heavy, causing serious flooding, including in Riyadh.

“They (the government) are very interested in drought management systems. The Kingdom has a long history of agriculture,” Elouafi said.

“It has large quantities of water in terms of rainfall, and certain regions have mountainous conditions, which are conducive to agriculture.”

Clearly, preservation of water resources is a priority for the Saudi government. But no less urgent is the task of conversion of green waste to improve soil quality, increase soil productivity and water retention, and reduce demand for irrigation.

The Kingdom is one of at least three Gulf Cooperation Council countries that are taking steps to develop a regulatory framework for the recycling of waste into compost.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman are respectively aiming to recycle 85 percent, 75 percent and 60 percent of their municipal solid waste over the next decade, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) entitled “Global Food Trends to 2030.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE rank in the bottom quartile of the 34 countries covered by the EIU’s Food Sustainability Index, with low scores for nutrition and food loss and waste. 

The answer, according to many farmers, policymakers and food-industry experts, is a shift toward more sustainable management of each country’s natural resources.