No Clues for Negative effects of Wi-Fi on Trees According to Wageningen University

About four years ago scary news about research that had shown devastating effects of Wi-Fi on trees and plants went all over the Internet. This research was done at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and was allegedly supported by Delft University and TNO. De study was commissioned by the Dutch municipality of Alphen aan den Rijn, in particular by Niek van ‘t Wout, head of green space of that city. Goal of the experiment was to find out whether electromagnetic fields (EM-fields) from Wi-Fi routers might have anything to do with the occurence of a mysterious tree disease which had already affected a lot of trees with bark nodules and fissures. As no known biological explanation could be given for this disease Van ‘t Wout came up with the idea that radiation could be part of the problem.
Soon the story was brought back to its proper proportions: it were just preliminary results and the prestigious institutions apart from Wageningen University were not involved at all. And although the experiment found some differences between the trees exposed to Wi-Fi and an unexposed control group, the experiment was quite small and it was not clear whether there was any connection between the found leaf discolourments and the disease of the trees in Alphen aan den Rijn. A bigger and better controlled experiment was announced, but we had to wait some years to hear anything from this again.

Climate chamber with Wi-Fi transmitters (src: report Wageningen University)
Climate chamber with Wi-Fi transmitters (src: report Wageningen University)

Recently the results were presented on the webpage of Alphen aan den Rijn. It mentions three reports of which the most important, in my view at least, is the replication of the previous study in which trees were grown in climate chambers: Rapportage “Effect EM Velden op bomen” by dr. André van Lammeren (Nov. 2013). In some of the climate chambers radiation sources were placed, in the other rooms dummy versions. This time the researchers also used UMTS and DVB-T transmitters. If you read the summary of the report it becomes clear that this time the researchers are far more careful in presenting their conclusions, of which the first is:

During the experimental research period of 5-8 months no damage like bark nodules, fissures or necrosis were found on the used ash trees in the climate chambers with or without EM-fields.

[Translation by me, the report is in Dutch and has not yet been published in an (international) scientific journal.]

So the study itself is of limited importance in unravelling the cause of the tree disease which was the motivation for the experiments. But it is still interesting to see whether EM-fields had any distinguishable effect at all. But if you read the rest of the conclusions you’ll find out that almost all measurements the researchers took (and they took a lot) showed ‘no significant difference’ between the exposed trees and the control group. They only found some differences in the leaves (curling, forming of exudate), which might be worth further investigation. But I doubt that these small differences should be called significant as no correction was performed for the many outcome measurements that were compared.

Bark nodules
Bark nodules

Another mentioned report from Wageningen University (F. van Kuik, March 2013) is about a field test. Two groups of trees were planted and surveyed during 1.5 years. One group exposed to Wi-Fi and the other group was planted in an area with low exposure to radiation. Also here there were no real significant differences. But also the researchers stress that they didn’t pay much attention to be sure that other factors (soil and light conditions) were exactly the same between the groups. To me it seems that this experiment was more about checking whether the used tools for measuerements were capable of doing such research for follow up experiments under better controlled settings.

The last report is by Van ‘t Wout himself together with a certain H.Luik (about whom I didn’t found anything). It’s on bio-potentials and inspired by the ideas of Andrew Goldsworthy, a researcher whose name regularly pops up as someone who warns for non-thermal effects of EM-fields. He worked as a scientist, but much of his research I saw is rather dodgy (especially his experiments on ‘magnetically treated’ water) and that makes it difficult to take his ideas very serious (which are not really very wel worked out in any case, much speculation). The experiments for this reports were done at the same time and in the same climate chambers as the other experiments of Wageningen University, but that’s all there is of a connection. The researchers of Wageningen University bear no scientific responsibility for these experiments as was confirmed to me by Van Lammeren. Anyway, to me it seems that the experiments at best show that you can measure with two electrodes stuck in a tree when a transmitter nearby has been put on or off. Even if this proves to be a reliable detection, it remains the question whether this has any meaning for the health of the tree.

To cut things short: the scientific experiments by Wageningen University don’t show any clue that Wi-Fi (or other sources of EM-fields, like UMTS and DVB-T) might have a negative health effect on trees. It therefore is very unlikely that EM-fields play any role in the occurence of the tree disease and the cause of that should be sought in another direction.
You would expect that this result was welcomed by Alphen aan den Rijn, but that doesn’t seem to be the case if you read their website.There the ‘significant’ differences mentioned in the reports are put forward, as well as the perhaps not so scientifically reliable experiments by Van ‘t Wout himself. The website is definitely suggesting there is now proof that Wi-Fi does have an effect on trees. This looks more and more like a personal motivated mission by Van ‘t Wout in which an objective evaluation of the scientific evidence has been lost out of sight. A bit weird that Alphen aan den Rijn gives him so much space to influence the presentation of the results, but he is even more outspoken on Twitter.

Stories about possible negative effects of electromagnetic fields from Wi-Fi, mobile phones and microwave ovens, are picked up quickly and are bound to go viral on the Internet. No matter the quality of the research nor the reliability of the source. We have seen this before with the Danish schoolgirls experiment with garden cress. Note that Van ‘t Wout and Goldworthy were among the foreign ‘experts’ who were so enthusiastic about that experiment.

[Based on my post on Kloptdatwel: Universiteit Wageningen: geen aanwijzingen dat Wi-Fi schadelijk is voor bomen]

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4 thoughts to “No Clues for Negative effects of Wi-Fi on Trees According to Wageningen University”

  1. We didn’t find any specific link between that study and the study we have just undertaken,” said van Lammeren, who stressed that the trees showed different symptoms in the two studies.

    In the pilot study commissioned by Alphen aan den Rijn, 20 plants were placed in one of two climate chambers. One chamber had no wireless access points, and the other did; only in the chamber with wireless points did the tree leaves show the necrosis described above.

    The finding is significant enough to warrant a second study with different controls concerning the type of plants used and the longevity of the experiment, Dr. van Lammeren told Deutsche Welle.

    [PvE: although the author of this remark has chosen ‘Nobody’ as his name, his e-mail address indicates that this is Andrew Goldsworthy. I wouldn’t normally ‘doxx’ commenters, but I think in this case it is in the sake of transparency as Goldsworth is mentioned in this post]

  2. Science is now discovering that trees are far more smarter alive being than we usually think. MMI, electromagnetism (like moon or local fields), music as well as electro-culture have demonstrated long time ago to be important factors to plants life. Even the type of the informations of the wifi signal may have an impact.

    Do again this experiment this way;

    – One chamber with wifi and the operators projecting loving and protecting thoughts to the trees, just like a good gardener does.
    – One chamber with wifi and the operators awaiting for the trees to be sick from wifi
    – One chamber with wifi and as few as possible operators and emotions projected to the trees
    – One chamber without wifi and as few as possible operators and emotions projected to the trees
    – One chamber without wifi and the operators projecting loving and protecting thoughts to the trees, just like a good gardener does.

    You will have to repeat the experiments at different moon phases for the birth of trees to avoid the cosmic factors.
    You will have to repeat the experiments at different geographic places to avoid the local fields factors.

    Then you will likely find that Wifi acts as a local fields and mind matter interaction amplifier rising the overall efficiency of human thoughts and local fields impact on trees, just like vibrating an heavy object makes it easier to move for the one that push.

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