Iraq's Secret Environmental Disasters

Horror stories of all types have emerged in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. But not only people were horrifically abused. Iraq's environment was tormented as well.

In the early 1970's a major methyl mercury-poisoning catastrophe occurred in which an estimated 10,000 people died and 100,000 were severely and permanently brain damaged. Saddam's regime was largely successful in suppressing information about the event.

The problem began in the late 1960's and early 1970's, when Iraq experienced a series of abysmal harvests. Since the "green revolution" was beginning, Iraq imported "wonder wheat" from Mexico. The risk was that the seed might grow moldy during the long, humid ocean transport to Iraq if it was not dressed with some fungicide. Methyl mercury became the most cost-effective fungicide, because it had recently been banned in Scandinavia and several American states due to environmental and toxicological risks. So the world market was flooded and prices dropped.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/EOQuBGw;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.