Electromagnetic Radio Frequency induced butterfly decline, new hypothesis or prediction come true?

By Dr Chris Barnes, Bangor Scientific and Educational Consultants, LL57 2TW.    Published on-line  July  2016.    EMAIL manager@bsec-wales.co.uk  


The recent 2016 DEMISE of butterflies in North Wales is discussed.  Neither increased used of neonicotinoids nor habitat destruction accounts for this demise. A prediction of such a demise was made by the author    some three years ago on the basis that when 4G emissions would be introduced they would resonate with the average butterfly body.   It has recently been shown that  magnetic reception is most probably cryptochrome system and further most probably a primordial pre-requite and common throughout the entire living kingdom of insects and animals.  Further that  reception senses rotating magnetic fields.  It is naturally to be expected therefore that any artificial magnetic field which provides some degree of rotation and quantum matching to the bio-sensing elements involved will cause disruption of the latter and the delicate balance of the living systems attached thereto.     4G LTE with 800  MHz diversity MIMO antenna systems provide a magnetic component which exactly fits this bill.  Orientation to the sun is absolutely essential for butterflies especially those newly hatched from the chrysalis phase.   If the rotating fields of 4G 800 MHz MIMO    systems are disturbing this orientation many butterflies will simply not even reach adult maturity. Sadly, they may even be dying  on their first day of hatching rather as mayflies.                I conclude that the predictions I made in 2013 appear to have come true.   Lower frequency mobile phone data emissions are more strongly absorbed by butterflies which form ideal dielectric dimple resonators.    The rotating fields produced by 4G LTE appear to be accentuating the situation and the likely mechanism is interference with the cryptochrome radical back reaction.  Since cryptochrome and rotating field detection may be a common denominator in the insect and animal kingdom,  l  desperately fear for the future of all wildlife in our environment and possible impact on human life.   I predict a silent spring in 2017 in Gwynedd as bird chicks hatching this year will have little or few grubs to feed upon.   4G LTE systems already appear to be disrupting human sleep more than any  previous sort of mobile telecoms system and there will be attendant rises in cancer, stroke and diabetes as a result.   If the human species is to survive, future technology must be designed with biology in mind.  Treatment with melatonin might possibly help. Possibly it is already far  too late for many in the insect world.




The author has noticed that despite a much warmer than average June, the butterfly population this year (2016) in urban and rural Gwynedd North Wales seems so far all but extinct.  The statistics are frankly frightening. On an average day one is lucky now to spot more than 2 or 3 butterflies in urban or rural habitat within several hours of observation. In prevoius years this number would be measured in the hundreds.     The purpose of this publication is to try and explain this very sudden demise. Only a few woodland species seem to remain.  A   written enquiry concerning possible renewed or invigorated use of neonicotinoids in the area   was passed to DEFRA and a third party response was later received from the Welsh Government  giving assurances that there was no such use at least on fruit and cereal crops attractive to bees. They also quoted habitat destruction as a possible reason.  However, given the fact that councils are now encouraged not to cut verges and farmers are encouraged not to cut  field margins and hedgerows very often this explanation is disputed. 


One naturally, therefore, has to seek alternative reasons for the decline. In 2013,  I introduced a new hypothesis for bee decline  on the basis of pulse modulated microwave emissions in interfering with their homing and signalling abilities    and I  further gave an explanation of the decline of houseflies with the introduction of 2.1GHz 3G emissions (ref)   and I made a further prediction that if the lower parts of the SHF spectrum were adopted for 4G mobile telephony to be rolled out circa 2016, butterfly decline would most likely follow.     At the time I envisaged the use of 600 MHz for 4G. The actual chosen    frequency has turned out to be 800 MHz, presumably so as not to cause too much disruption to the UHF DVB  Freeview service and also so that base station antenna structures would not become too physically cumbersome.   In fact 4G was rolled out in the main towns and cities of North Wales circa April 2016 which seems almost exactly coincident with the mass disappearance of many butterfly species.   




At 800 MHz the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation  in cartilage is 72 mm.  Assuming  the keratinous body of an insect behaves similarly  and knowing the size of  common UK species of butterfly  bodies and wingspans vary  from about 30-50 mm  we can see that they would make good half wave dielectric  resonators.     The hypothesis is therefore   quite simple.  Butterfly bodies effectively make good antennas at the 4G operating frequency.  Unless extremely close to base station transmitting antennas, the possibly of direct thermal damage is remote.  However, there are a significant number of non –thermal   bio effects associated with RF radiation which I  and others have discussed elsewhere, see Appendix.   Above and beyond these,  I now  propose that   in particular with 4G  LTE OFDM and diversity polarization MIMO systems  the observed bio-effects on butterflies and other similarly sized insects will be even more deleterious  due to the production of rotating hyperbolic magnetic fields , which will have the tendency to interfere with insect magnetic navigation and solar orienting systems.     


Firstly, in support of the hypothesis is the finding that houseflies often spontaneously die  in houses with dual  band WIFI ( 2.4/ 5 GHz) and such systems also use MIMO and slant polarised diversity antennas.   Following the above, the houseflies’ wings form a dielectric dipole antenna at exactly 2.4 GHz and its body which is about half the length will resonate close to 5GHz.  Further its eyes contain Cryptochrome  flavoproteins, magnetic material involved in light synchronization of the master circadian clock, see Mazzotta et al (2014).  Cryptochromes are presently thought to have merely a blue-light photoreceptor activity in plants whereas in mammals they are part of the central clock mechanism, and this function is not light dependent . In Drosophila, the unique CRY acts as a circadian photoreceptor in the master clock  whereas, in other insects, only the vertebrate-like CRYs play a role as transcriptional repressor. Moreover, dCRY has been shown to play a fundamental role in the fly’s magnetosensitivity, i.e., the use of the Earth’s magnetic field for orientation and navigation.


Theory and mechanisms 

I have discussed bio-effects of RF radiation elsewhere and such effects summarised at http://drchrisbarnes.co.uk and theoretically  these could contribute to the present new declines of butterfly colonies, particularly  those living   at certain key distances from installations.    However, in no previous year  in Gwynedd has there been such a serious decline as 2016.


I have therefore sought to more properly explain this decline.  It is known that in the USA, the Monarch migratory butterfly contains magnetic nanomaterial ( bio-magnetite).     Krirsvink ( ref) found bio magnetite in the human brain and very recently indeed has shown that humans ( brain rhythms) can be   modulated by rotating magnetic fields, see Eric Hand ( 2016),     Science  24 Jun 2016: Further detail can be found at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3664569/Do-lost-sixth-sense-Expert-claims-evidence-humans-discern-magnetic-fields.html.   Detection systems for the earth magnetic field found in birds, insects and other mammals, some say they rely  on iron mineral and magnetite to act as 'compass needles', while others say it uses protein in the retina called cryptochrome.

Kirschvink believes Magneto reception may be the source of this ability  even in humans where it has been shown with a high degree of reproducibility for 24 different subjects in a Faraday cage  that when the  applied magnetic field is rotated clockwise alpha wave frequency  dropped.  See also  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3664569/Do-lost-sixth-sense-Expert-claims-evidence-humans-discern-magnetic-fields.html#ixzz4DTVAivjc

 Persinger ( ref)  found that melatonin is seriously  supressed in power industry workers exposed to 3-phase lines ( i.e. rotating fields) but not in those who worked underneath or proximal with single phase lines.   As an alternative or in addition to this a large number of species including insects,  amphibians, dogs, primates and humans  have been shown to have magnetically sensitive molecules known as cryptochromes in their eyes and brains.   Cryptochromes have also been found in plants and primordial magnetically sensitive bacteria.    The latest thinking is that there is a feedback driven link between melatonin and cryptochrome, see Vreind and Reiter (2015).    Loss of circadian rhythm and light-induced suppression of pineal melatonin levels  occurs in Cry1 and Cry2 double-deficient mice,  see Yamananka et al (2010).  Melatonin has been found to be  synthesized in the retina, lens, ciliary body as well as other parts of the body,  see Brennan et al (2007), reinforcing the above links.    Thapan et al (2001) were the first to suggest that the crptochromes were the non-rod, non-cone photoreceptor in the eye responsible  for blue light reception and melatonin suppression.    It has been shown that birds can only orient if blue light is present.  It is thought that weak magnetic fields affect the cryptochrome radical pair back reaction.   


Vacha et al (2009) has shown that the  sense that allows birds to orient themselves by the Earth's magnetic field can be disabled by an oscillating magnetic field whose intensity is just a fraction of the geomagnetic field intensity and whose oscillations fall into the medium or high frequency radio wave bands. This remarkable phenomenon points very clearly at one of two existing alternative magnetoreception mechanisms in terrestrial animals, i.e. the mechanism based on the radical pair reactions of specific photosensitive molecules. As the first such study in invertebrates, our work offers evidence that geomagnetic field reception in American cockroach is sensitive to a weak radio frequency field. Furthermore, we show that the `deafening' effect at Larmor frequency 1.2 MHz is stronger than at different frequencies. The parameter studied was the rise in locomotor activity of cockroaches induced by periodic changes in the geomagnetic North positions by 60 deg,  i.e. rotations.  The onset of the disruptive effect of a 1.2 MHz field was found between 12 nT and 18 nT whereas the threshold of a doubled frequency field 2.4 MHz fell between 18 nT and 44 nT. A 7 MHz field showed no impact even in maximal 44 nT magnetic flux density. Their  results indicate resonance effects rather than non-specific bias of procedure itself and suggest that insects may be equipped with the same magnetoreception system as the birds.



Several  conclude (refs) that such bio-magnetic  cryptochrome proteins and mineralisation are  most probably a common  or even  a universal  essential feature throughout the animal kingdom.         Rotating magnetic fields applied to given cell cultures  and even human brains have been shown to evoke bio-photon  production   and  effectively quantum coupled production in other nearby cultures and brains, see Persinger (2011).   They found that Light flashes delivered to one aggregate of cells evoked increased photon emission in another aggregate of cells maintained in the dark in another room if both aggregates shared the same temporospatial configuration of changing rate, circular magnetic fields. During the presentation of the same shared circumcerebral magnetic fields increases in photon emission occurred beside the heads of human volunteers if others in another room saw light flashes. Both cellular and human photon emissions during the light flashes did not occur when the shared magnetic fields were not present. The summed energy emissions from the dark location during light stimulation to others was about 10(-11) W/m(2) and calculated to be in the order of 10(-20) J per cell which is coupled to membrane function. Their results support accumulating data that under specific conditions changes in photon emissions may reflect intercellular and interbrain communications with potential quantum-like properties.  This may not be as surprising as it sounds. For instance, even human cryptochrome  exhibits light-dependent magnetosensitivity, see Foley et al, who showed this by  using a transgenic approach that human CRY2, which is heavily expressed in the human retina, been made to function as a magnetosensor in the magnetoreception system of Drosophila and that it does so in a light-dependent manner. Their results show that human CRY2 has the molecular capability to function as a light-sensitive magnetosensor and re-open an area of sensory biology that is ready for further exploration in humans.   


Bazalova et al (2015) have shown that  Cryptochrome 2 mediates directional magnetoreception in cockroaches.   Further by eye-covering experiments and by immunolocalization of a crucial mammalian-type Cry2 under the retina, they clearly show that the eye is an indispensable organ for the directional geo-magnetic field  response.


The common denominator in magnetic field detection in man and in insects appears to be the need for rotation.  The earth system is axially rotating and further orbits the sun so all interactions of living systems and the sun –earth magnetic field are rotational interactions.        


It is naturally to be expected therefore that any artificial magnetic field which provides some degree of rotation and quantum matching to the bio-sensing elements involved will cause disruption of the latter and the delicate balance of the living systems attached thereto.     4G LTE with 800  MHz diversity MIMO antenna systems fits this bill, see Appendix 1 below.  

The purpose of bio –magnetite and cryptochromes  in insects seems to be intimately linked to vision and navigation and it is thought it might measure the angle of the sun and/or allow faster navigation at night.  Orientation to the sun is absolutely essential for butterflies especially those newly hatched from the chrysalis phase.   If the rotating fields of 4G 800 MHz MIMO    systems are disturbing this orientation many butterflies will simply not even reach adult maturity. Sadly, they may even be dying  on their first day of hatching rather as mayflies.


First -hand observations

   Today ( 4th July 2016) I believe I witnessed  first -hand   the effect of 4G on butterfly behaviour.   The butterfly I saw was a small tortoishell.  Its wings were in excellent condition but its  flight was aimless it seem bedazzled by the sun and incapable of selecting any blossom upon which to land.     Such a demise if repeated on freshly emerged  imagoes of several species  would certainly explain this year’s almost complete absence of butterflies here in Gwynedd.   The statistics are frankly frightening. On an average day one is lucky now to spot more than 2 or 3 butterflies in urban or rural habitat within several hours of observation. In prevoius years this number would be measured in the hundreds. 


Further, according to my hypothesis, I would expect Woodland butterflies to be less badly affected  as firstly they do not need to orient as often and secondly in woodlands radio frequency fields will be weaker.  By observation this is exactly what I have observed.  In Gwynedd, the Speckled Wood species seems relatively unaffected in numbers whereas all species which are expected  to be found in meadows, heathland and gardens are all but extinct.


Conclusions and Fears for the future


·       I conclude that the predictions I made in 2013 appear to have come true.   Lower frequency mobile phone data emissions are more strongly absorbed by butterflies which form ideal dielectric dimple resonators.    The rotating fields produced by 4G LTE appear to be accentuating the situation and the likely mechanism is interference with the cryptochrome radical back reaction.  

·       Since cryptochrome and rotating field detection may be a common denominator in the insect and animal kingdom,  l  desperately fear for the future of all wildlife in our environment and possible impact on human life.  

·       I predict a silent spring in 2017 in Gwynedd as bird chicks hatching this year will have little or few grubs to feed upon. 

·       4G LTE systems already appear to be disrupting human sleep more than any  previous sort of mobile telecoms system and there will be attendant rises in cancer, stroke and diabetes as a result.  

·       If the human species is to survive, future technology must be designed with biology in mind.  Treatment with melatonin might possibly help.

·       Possibly it is already far  too late for many in the insect world.



Appendix 1 :  4G MIMO Antenna Polarisation Representation

LTE is what most are calling 4G but in reality it is just an advanced 3G standard that some call 3.9G. LTE uses a completely different radio technology. Instead of CDMA, it uses orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) and OFDM access. This modulation technique divides a channel usually 5, 10 or 20 MHz wide into smaller subchannels or subcarriers each 15 kHz wide. Each is modulated with part of the data. The fast data is divided into slower streams that modulate the subcarriers with one of several modulation schemes like QPSK or 16QAM.

LTE also defines multiple input multiple output (MIMO) operation that uses several transmitter-receiver-antennas. The data stream is divided between the antennas to boost speed and to make the link more reliable. Using OFDM and MIMO lets LTE deliver data at a rate to 100 Mb/s downstream and 50 Mb/s upstream under the best conditions





Thus each data stream effectively rotates the signal through a spatial angle creating a pseudo-random rotating magnetic field vector.      These  would appear to be exact   facets in frequency and time domain that that bio-magnetic sensory systems in insect and mammalian biology have recently  and above been proven sensitive to.    In weak signal areas there is more randomness due to multipath propagation. 




Appendix 2 :  Wireless Devices & Wildlife


See http://www.drchrisbarnes.co.uk/BEEDECLINE.htm   and http://www.drchrisbarnes.co.uk/TREE.htm and http://www.drchrisbarnes.co.uk/RFEM.htm

Some other known  effects of EMR from wireless devices on wildlife
Excerpts and Resources  Reproduced for Research Purposes from An Electronic Silent Spring

The radiofrequency (RF) signals that cellular antennas, mobile devices and “smart” utility meters require to function are now ubiquitously and continuously emitted.

How do these signals affect wildlife?

Scientists report that RF fields emitted by cellular antennas alone potentially cause the decline of animal populations, reduction of some species’ useful territory, and deterioration of plant health. Some species may experience reduction of their natural defenses, problems in reproduction and aversive behavioral responses. (1)

Here are summaries of studies about the effects of RF signals on trees, insects and birds:


In a 2010 paper published in the International Journal of Forestry Research, researcher Katie Haggerty explained that the Earth’s natural radiofrequency environment has remained about the same within the lifespan of modern trees. “Before 1800,” Haggerty wrote, “the major components of this environment were broadband radio noise from space (galactic noise), from lightning (atmospheric noise), and a smaller RF component from the sun. (2) …Plants may have evolved” to use these environmental signals, along with visible light in order to regulate their periodic functions. Therefore, they may be sensitive to man-made RF fields. “The background of RF pollution,” Haggerty continued, “is now many times stronger than the naturally occurring RF environment. From the perspective of evolutionary time, the change can be considered sudden and dramatic. (3,4) …Growth rates of plants (5) and fungi (6) can be increased or decreased by RF exposure. Exposure to RF signals can induce plants to produce more meristems, (7) affect root cell structure, (8,9) and induce stress response…causing biochemical changes.”(10)

Ms. Haggerty went on to describe her study of the influence of RF signals on trembling aspen seedlings. Seedlings that were shielded in a Faraday cage (a metal container that prevents RF radiation from entering) thrived. Seedlings that were exposed to RF signals showed necrotic lesions and abnormal coloring in their leaves. (11)

According to British biologist Dr. Andrew Goldsworthy, “Trees are now dying mysteriously from a variety of diseases in urban areas all over Europe. They also show abnormal photoperiodic responses. Many have cancer-like growths under the bark (phloem nodules). The bark may also split so that the underlying tissues become infected. All of these can be explained as a result of exposure to weak RF fields from mobile phones, their base stations, Wi-Fi and similar sources of weak non-ionizing radiation.” (12)

Other scientists have found that trees in areas with high Wi-Fi activity suffer from bleeding fissures in their bark, the death of parts of leaves, and abnormal growth. In 2010, in the Netherlands, 70% of urban ash trees suffered from radiation sickness, including a “lead-like shine” on their leaves, indicating the leaves’ oncoming death. In 2005, only 10% of ash trees suffered radiation sickness. (13)


Perhaps the first study to demonstrate that insects have an electrical sense came out in 1992. Biologist William MacKay and his colleagues showed that several kinds of ants were attracted to electrical fields. Indeed, ants can damage equipment that produces “attractive” electrical fields. (14)

In 2013, Belgian biologist Marie-Claire Cammaerts and Swedish neuroscientist Olle Johansson exposed ants to common wireless devices. The scientists placed a mobile phone under a tray, then placed ants on the tray. When the phone was off or on standby-mode, the ants’ angular speed increased. Within two to three seconds of the scientists’ turning the phone on (able to receive or send calls), the ants’ angular speed increased and their linear speed decreased.

Exposed to a smartphone, the linear speed of “fresh” ants decreased; their angular speed increased. The ants’ speed changed similarly but more strongly when exposed to a DECT (cordless landline) phone. They had difficulty moving their legs and did not move toward their nest or their food site as usual. The ants were exposed to each of these two phones for three minutes, and took two to four hours to resume their normal behavior.

When Cammaerts and Johansson put a mobile phone on standby mode under the ants’ nest, the ants left their nest immediately, taking their eggs, larvae and nymphs with them. They relocated far from the phone. Once the phone was removed, the ants returned to their original location.

After thirty minutes of exposure to a Wi-Fi router, the ants’ speed changed again, as did their foraging behavior. It took them six to eight hours to resume normal foraging. Several ants never recovered and were found dead a few days later.

When the scientists placed an ACER Aspire 2920 about twenty-five centimeters away, the insects appeared disturbed as soon as the computer was switched on. When the PC was switched on with its Wi-Fi function de-activated, the ants appeared undisturbed.

The researchers concluded that ants can be used as bio-indicators to reveal the biological effects of RF signals from some wireless devices. They also advised users to de-activate the Wi-Fi function of their PCs. (15)


Bees also have an electrical sense. Bees are positively charged, and flowers are negatively charged. These charges help pollen stick to bees’ hair while they pollenate. In 2012, biologist Dominic Clarke and his colleagues showed that bees use their electrical sense to determine whether or not a flower has recently been visited by another bee–and is therefore worth visiting. (16,17)

In Bees, Birds and Mankind: Effects of Wireless Communication Technologies (Kentum, 2009), German scientist Ulrich Warnke states, “Bees and other insects, just as birds, use the Earth’s magnetic field and high frequency electromagnetic energy such as light. They accomplish orientation and navigation by means of free radicals as well as a simultaneously reacting magnetite conglomerate. Technically produced electromagnetic oscillations in the MHz range and magnetic impulses in the low frequency range persistently disturb the natural orientation and navigation mechanisms created by evolution.”

In his book, Warnke quotes Ferdinand Ruzicka, a scientist and beekeeper who reported, in 2003, after several transmitters (cellular antennas) were erected in the immediate vicinity of his hives: “I observed a pronounced restlessness in my bee colonies (initially about forty) and a greatly increased urge to swarm. As a frame-hive beekeeper, I use a so-called high floor. The bees did not build their combs in the manner prescribed by the frames, but in random fashion. In the summer, bee colonies collapsed without obvious cause. In the winter, I observed that the bees went foraging despite snow and temperatures below zero, and they died of cold next to the hive. Colonies that exhibited this behavior collapsed, even though they were strong, healthy colonies with active queens before winter. They were provided with adequate additional food and the available pollen was more than adequate in autumn.”

Ruzicka then organized a survey of beekeepers through the magazine Der Bienen Vater. All twenty of the beekeepers who replied to his questionnaire had a transmitter within 300 meters of their beehives. Compared to the bees’ behavior before and after the transmitters were in operation, 37.5% observed increased aggression from their bees.

25% found that their bees had a greater tendency to swarm.

65% reported that their colonies were inexplicably collapsing since the transmitters became operational.

Warnke says that monocultures, pesticides, the Varroa mite, migratory beekeeping, dressed seed, severe winters, and genetically modified seeds could also explain the bee colonies’ collapse. However, none of these convincingly explains “the fairly sudden and country-spanning appearance two to three years ago of the dying bees phenomenon. Should the bees simply be too weak or ill, they should also die in or near the hive. But no ill bees were found in research into this phenomenon.”

In May, 2009, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urged Congress to investigate the potential relationship between wireless devices and bee colony collapse. (18)


In 2010, Spanish biologist Alfonso Balmori published his study of a common frog habitat 140 meters from a cellular antenna. The experiment lasted two months, from the egg phase until an advanced phase of tadpole. Balmori placed some of the frogs inside a Faraday cage. These shielded frogs had a mortality of 4.2%. The unshielded frogs – exposed to the antenna’s RF fields–had a mortality of 90%. Balmori concluded that “this research may have huge implications for the natural world, which is now exposed to high microwave radiation levels from a multitude of phone masts.” (19)

Bird collisions with telecom equipment

Albert Manville, PhD, wildlife biologist with the Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), estimates that up to 6.8 million birds die per year in collisions with communications antennas or their guy-support wires in North America. The impacts of cellular antenna radiation on migratory birds in North America, especially those nesting close to these structures, remain suspect and unknown.

In January 2012, Dr. Manville wrote: Recent studies from Europe raise troubling concerns about the effects of radiation from cellular communication antennas, especially on resident, breeding migratory birds. These apparent effects include feather deformities, weight loss, weakness, reduced survivorship and death, especially to those birds and their offspring nesting adjacent to cellular antennas. Where Before-After, Control-Impact (BACI) studies were performed during some of the European research, no effects to resident birds were detected prior to construction and operation of cellular communication antennas. Some laboratory studies in the U.S. have documented lethal effects of extremely low levels of radiation to chicken embryos in the frequencies of cellular telephones, (20) but research to better address cause and effect to wild birds in North America has yet to be conducted. To date, only anecdotal reports from instances in North America have been brought to the attention of authorities at the USFWS.

If we are to better understand the cumulative effects of human infrastructure on migratory birds–including communication technologies, research needs to be conducted to specifically address how radiation is affecting migratory birds and what resultant lethal and injurious effects are occurring. The explosive growth of hand-held technologies raises further concerns since potential impacts may grow.

The unpermitted killing or injury of a migratory bird, is called a “take” under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The USFWS does not permit the ‘incidental or accidental take’ of any of the 1007 migratory bird species protected under MBTA. Therefore, studies need to be undertaken to determine how much ‘take’ is occurring as a result of radiation, and what steps can be undertaken to “avoid or minimize” future “take.” The USFWS continues to suggest to the FCC the need for these North American studies based alone on cumulative effects that must be addressed under National Environmental Policy Act review. The studies need to better tease out how and at what level “takes” are occurring, then determine what conservation measures can be adopted to “avoid or minimize” future “take.” Because of the controversial nature of this issue, any studies and outcomes need to be seamless and fully transparent.

The white stork

During the Springs of 2002, 2003 and 2004, biologist Alfonso Balmori monitored the reproduction of the white stork, a vulnerable bird species that usually lives in urban areas. White stork couples build their nests in pinnacles and other very high places that are now exposed to man-made microwaves. Balmori studied white stork nests within 200 meters of antennas and nests located more than 300 meters from antennas. He found that 40% of the nests within 200 meters of antennas had no chicks, while only 3.3% of nests further than 300 meters of antennas had no chicks. Also, near antennas, white stork couples frequently fought for sticks, their sticks fell to the ground while they tried to build nests, the nests did not get built and hatched white stork chicks frequently died. (21)

Common citizens have also observed changes in birds when technologies that emit EMR are deployed. After transmitting water meters were installed in Renton, Washington in December, 2012, a retired civil engineer who had spent thirty dollars per month on birdseed for years noticed that the feeders in his yard no longer emptied. His neighbors also noticed that immediately after the transmitting water meters were installed, the birds that had frequented their yard (beside a greenbelt) disappeared. (22)

Birds, bees and magnetically-sensitive cryptochromes

Why would RF signals disturb birds and bees? Here’s an answer from biologist Andrew Goldsworthy, PhD: To navigate and also to control their immune systems, birds and bees use magnetically-sensitive substances called cryptochromes. These are pigments found in virtually all animals, plants and many bacteria. Cryptochromes absorb blue-green and ultra-violet light and use this energy to drive photochemical reactions where light energy is converted to chemical energy. Cryptochromes measure light to control and reset animals’ and plants’ biological clocks. Some animals also use cryptochromes to sense the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Unfortunately, cryptochromes are badly impaired by man-made oscillating fields that are orders of magnitude weaker than the Earth’s steady magnetic field. Such impairment can disrupt insects’ and animals’ solar and magnetic navigational abilities. It can account for colony collapse disorder in bees, the loss of some migratory birds and butterflies, and immune system weakening in many more organisms.

An array of cryptochrome molecules oriented in different directions can be found in the compound eye of an insect, or in the retina of a vertebrate’s eye. This cryptochrome found in the eyes is quite distinct from the regular visual pigments (rhodopsins) that are used in normal vision. However, the combination of these pigments gives the animal the potential to “see” the direction of the magnetic field, possibly as an extra color superimposed on its normal field of vision.

Robins can navigate in the Earth’s magnetic field if they receive light from wavelengths absorbed by cryptochrome. (23) However, exposure to man-made frequencies between 0.1 and 10MHz at field strengths as little as 0.085 mT (about 500 times weaker than the Earth’s magnetic field) made the birds completely unable to respond to the Earth’s field.

Frequencies used by mobile devices, including cell phones, DECT cordless landline phones and Wi-Fi, can blot out “magnetic vision.” Even lower field strengths are likely to disturb magnetic navigation, since radiation that is too weak to blot out magnetic vision totally may still be strong enough to distort a bird’s perception of the Earth’s field, causing the bird or insect to fly in the wrong direction.

The sheer number of wireless devices gives birds continuously conflicting navigational data – as if they’re constantly bombarded by flashing disco lights. We should not be surprised that birds would leave such areas. Likewise, scientists who put DECT cordless phone base stations next to their beehives found that their bees behaved abnormally and were less likely to return to the hive. (24) (Beekeepers are thereby well advised not to carry their mobile phones when visiting their hives.)

Birds, bees and many other animals can also navigate by the sun’s position. To do this, they must have an internal clock that adjusts to the sun’s changing position throughout the day. Cryptochrome makes this clock sensitive to magnetic fields. A 300 mT steady field can alter the clock’s speed or even stop it altogether. (25) Given that sensing light and magnetic fields by cryptochrome uses the same basic mechanics as the internal clock, it’s likely that weak alternating fields would also disrupt a clock’s normal functions. As a consequence, weak, man-made electromagnetic fields would render animals unable to adjust accurately to the sun’s changing position. This leaves the animal unable to use either magnetic or solar navigation. If there were no landmarks to guide it, the animal would be completely lost. This could explain colony collapse disorder, when bees do not return to their hives.

Circadian (daily) metabolic rhythms, which occur in virtually all higher organisms, keep us in sync with the Earth’s twenty-four hour rotation on its axis. Circadian rhythms are also driven by cryptochrome-containing internal clocks. They enable the organism to anticipate the coming of dawn and dusk, and they modify its metabolism to be ready for the new conditions. Circadian rhythms control the production of melatonin (a sleep hormone); at night, they divert metabolic resources to repair and immune system strengthening.

Losing or even weakening of the circadian rhythm – due to a failure of the internal clock’s exposure to man-made electromagnetic fields–would have serious consequences. In humans, this would result in tiredness during the day, poor sleep at night, and reduced production of melatonin. All of these effects have been reported in people exposed to continuous, weak, electromagnetic radiation from DECT phone base stations, Wi-Fi routers and cellular antennas.

Also, any weakening of the circadian rhythms’ amplitudes means that processes controlled by them will never function at maximum power. The immune system may never be able to summon the massive power that is sometimes required to overcome pathogens or destroy developing cancer cells before they get out of control. In part, this could explain epidemiologists’ findings that people living near cellular antennas have an increased cancer risk. It could also explain bee colonies’ continuing decreased health and ability to resist pathogens.

Bill Bruno, PhD biophysicist, retired from the Los Alamos National Lab: Biology is very sophisticated in its ability to make use of electromagnetic fields. Cryptochromes are just one example. Despite centuries of discoveries in biology and advances in medicine, there is so much we don’t know. For example, why do our brains, sinuses and other tissues have magnetic magnetite particles?

Our bones and collagen are piezoelectric: in an electric field, they expand and contract. What are the implications of that? And what about recent experiments that show that DNA is a semiconductor, and that melanin, including neuromelanin in the brain, is a conductor?

1. Balmori, A., “Electromagnetic pollution from phone masts. Effects on wildlife,” Pathophysiology, (2009), doi; 10.1016/j.pathophys.2009.01.007.
2. Maslin, N.M., ” HF Communications: A Systems Approach, Plenum Press, 1987.
3. ibid.
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