Wednesday, February 25, 2004

WHO suppressed DU report

The apologists for the use of depleted uranium in places like Iraq and Serbia like to refer to various studies which suggest that it is a perfectly safe substance and there is no scientific proof that its use or the failure to clean it up will cause long-term health risks. Doctors in hospitals in affected areas have plenty of evidence that this is not true, but unfortunately the issue is usually not studied by independent parties. There does not appear to be any great interest to fund the type of study that might determine the issue. There are lots of reports by various militaries that depleted uranium is safe. All of these reports are tainted by the fact that these militaries all want to keep using the stuff, and are all in litigation with their own former soldiers over damage to health allegedly caused by exposure to it. The one report that the lovers of DU can cite which appears to be independent is one produced in 2001 by the World Health Organization (for the WHO conclusions, see pp. 81-82 of the pdf file of the report, comprising pp. 147-148 of the report itself). Now it appears that the WHO, under the influence of the pro-nuclear International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has suppressed a report prepared for it which comes to a more pessimistic conclusion. This study found that both adults and children could contract cancer as a result of breathing in dust containing DU. This report was completed in 2001, and if it had not been suppressed might have put enough political pressure on Britain and the United States not to use DU in Iraq. A co-author of the suppressed report, Dr Keith Baverstock, the WHO's top expert on radiation and health for 11 years until he retired in May last year, said:

"There is increasing scientific evidence the radioactivity and the chemical toxicity of DU could cause more damage to human cells than is assumed."


"I believe our study was censored and suppressed by the WHO because they didn’t like its conclusions. Previous experience suggests that WHO officials were bowing to pressure from the IAEA, whose remit is to promote nuclear power."


"That is more than unfortunate, as publishing the study would have helped forewarn the authorities of the risks of using DU weapons in Iraq."

As usual, it appears that the science has been corrupted by the desire of the military-industrial complex to rid itself of same waste products of the nuclear industry by dropping them on human beings (the real reason why DU is so popular is financial, in that it replaces much more expensive materials and allows the nuclear industry to dispose of hazardous waste that would otherwise be very expensive to get rid of). In a civilized world, you would think that the onus would be on militaries proposing to drop large quantities of a substance on civilians to come up with independent scientific reports that the substance is safe. Instead, we have to put up with a corrupted UN organization carrying the can for the nuclear industry while pretending to be independent. Dr. Baverstock said:

"It is ridiculous to leave the material lying around and not to clear it up where adults are working and children are playing. If DU is not taken care of, instead of decreasing the risk you are increasing it. It is absolutely wrong."

When do you suppose the Americans and British will get around to cleaning up the mess they made, an obligation that is all the stronger considering recent revelations that the justifications for this illegal and immoral attack were all lies?