Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Monday, 20 December 2004

'Cosmic' bakery's phone mast fear

Bread at the bakery
Biodynamic food is grown out of a spiritual understanding of nature

A bakery is fighting plans for a phone mast because it claims radio waves will ruin its "cosmic bread".

Artisan Bread say emissions from the antenna will disrupt "subtle forces" which help to make the loaves.

The bakery plots planetary movements and uses a special calendar to work out the best time to make the bread.

But it is claimed the shop in Whitstable, Kent, would lose its special licence because the mast is too close to the premises.

Bakery owner Ingrid Greenfield, who supplies exclusive shops including Harvey Nichols, said: "It does sound wacky but as you work with it, and you see what it does to people, obviously it works.

Our concerns are about microwave radiation affecting the baking process
Timothy Brink, Biodynamic Agricultural Association

"If you grow things and sow things on the right days, plants are strong and resistant to disease."

She said the installation of the mast in a position so close to the bakery would "destroy the vitality" of her product, preventing her from working with "subtle, cosmic forces".

"You can't see them, you can't smell them and you can't feel them, but it all comes together in the product."

Hutchinson 3g said it looked at other sites, but the only option was to place the mast nine metres from the shop.

Canterbury Council had refused permission for the mast, but the phone company appealed and the planning authority's decision was overturned.

Mrs Greenfield, who says she is prepared to take legal action, said her customers buy her bread because they care about their health and how their food is made.

'Living process'

The bread is certified by the Demeter licence, issued by the Biodynamic Agricultural Association, which promotes farming based on a holistic and spiritual understanding of nature.

Timothy Brink, development officer for the Demeter sign, said the 50 metre rule was "a precautionary measure".

"It is because so little is known yet and there is so little research to prove that radiation from mobile phone masts is safe.

"Making the bread is a living process, similar to yoghurt, where the dough rises and develops with the yeast.

"Our concerns are about microwave radiation affecting the baking process.

"Research in Scandinavia has raised concern about the health effects and what we have heard is that with a 50 metre zone, you can be relatively confident there will be no serious health risks, but with a shorter distance you just don't know."

'No impact'

Mike Davies, community affairs manager for the mobile phone company, said: "Prior to our application, there was a mobile phone base station quite close to where our site is and that has been there for three or four years, and it hasn't had any impact on the bakery.

"We do have constraints placed on us by the landowners, who might say this is the area we would like you to go, because of their operation or business interests.

"You can't just choose any site on the piece of land."

The owner of the land declined to comment to BBC Radio Kent.

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