Global Food Supply Near the Breaking Point

By Stephen Leahy

May 18, 2006, Inter Press Service

BROOKLIN, Canada - The world is now eating more food than
farmers grow, pushing global grain stocks to their lowest
level in 30 years. Rising population, water shortages,
climate change, and the growing costs of fossil fuel-based
fertilisers point to a calamitous shortfall in the world's
grain supplies in the near future, according to Canada's
National Farmers Union (NFU).

Thirty years ago, the oceans were teeming with fish, but
today more people rely on farmers to produce their food than
ever before, says Stewart Wells, NFU's president.

In five of the last six years, global population ate
significantly more grains than farmers produced.

And with the world's farmers unable to increase food
production, policymakers must address the "massive challenges
to the ability of humanity to continue to feed its growing
numbers", Wells said in a statement.

There isn't much land left on the planet that can be
converted into new food-producing areas, notes Lester Brown,
president of the Earth Policy Institute, a Washington-based
non-governmental organisation. And what is left is of
generally poor quality or likely to turn into dust bowls if
heavily exploited, Brown told IPS.

Unlike the Green Revolution in the 1960s, when improved
strains of wheat, rice, maize and other cereals dramatically
boosted global food production, there are no technological
magic bullets waiting in the wings.

"Biotechnology has made little difference so far," he said.

Even if the long-promised biotech advances in drought, cold,
and disease-resistance come about in the next decade, they
will boost yields little more than five percent globally,
Brown said.

"There's not nearly enough discussion about how people will
be fed 20 years from now," he said.

Hunger is already a stark and painful reality for more than
850 million people, including 300 million children. How can
the number of hungry not explode when one, two and possibly
three billion more people are added to the global population?

The global food system needs fixing and fast, says Darrin
Qualman, NFU's research director.

"Many Canadian and U.S. farmers are going out of business
because crop prices are at their lowest in nearly 100 years,"
Qualman said in an interview. "Farmers are told
overproduction is to blame for the low prices they've been
forced to accept in recent years."

However, most North American agribusiness corporations posted
record profits in 2004. With only five major companies
controlling the global grain market, there is a massive
imbalance of power, he said.

"The food production system is designed to generate profits,
not produce food or nutrition for people," Qualman told IPS.

He says there are enormous amounts of food stored in central
Canada's farming heartland, but thousands of people there,
including some farm families, are forced to rely on food

"It's a system that's perfectly happy to leave hundreds of
millions of people unfed," he said.

Inequity and poverty are at the heart of the hunger problem,
according to experts, including the U.N. Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO).

Economic inequity is becoming more widespread, with hunger
and malnutrition a chronic problem for the poor in both the
South and the North, says Brown.

And the present situation is likely to worsen with climate

An estimated 184 million people in Africa alone could die
from floods, famine, drought and conflict resulting from
climate change before the end of the century, according to a
new report by Christian Aid, a British-based charity.

Millions more in other parts of the world will also perish,
and recent gains in reducing poverty could be thrown into
reverse in coming decades, said the report, "Climate of
Poverty: Facts, Fears and Hopes".

"This is a grave crisis for global society and we need global
solutions," said Andrew Pendleton, climate and development
analyst at Christian Aid.

In the "Hope" section of the report, the group envisions poor
regions using renewable energy to power a new, and clean, era
of prosperity.

Another vision is already making a difference in villages in
10 African countries. With some money to buy better seeds,
fertiliser, a share in a protected water source, and a bed
net to fend off malarial mosquitoes, hundreds of thousands of
villagers in the Millennium Villages project are now able to
grow enough food and sell the surplus.

Developed by Jeffrey Sachs and others at Columbia
University's Earth Institute and the U.N. Millennium Project,
each project is led by local community members using proven,
practical, low-cost technologies.

Making a substantial difference in Africa's food security and
poverty issues means development assistance to spread the
project to the more than 100,000 villages in Africa,
organisers have said.

That kind of frontal assault on poverty, along with
population stabilisation and sharp reductions in greenhouse
gas emissions that are causing climate change, top Brown's
list of what needs to be done immediately.

Shifting from a global food production system to local food
for local people would go a long way towards addressing
inequity, Qualman believes.

"The 100-mile diet, where people obtain their food from
within a 100-mile radius of their homes, makes good sense for
most of the world," he said.

The whole fabric of the food production system needs to
change, or hunger and malnutrition will only get much worse.

"North America's industrial-style agricultural system is a
really bad idea and maybe the worst on the planet," Qualman

Copyright © 2006 IPS-Inter Press Service


Depleted Uranium Dust - Public Health Disaster For The People Of Iraq and

By Doug Westerman

May 3, 2006
Vital Truths and Information Clearing House

In 1979, depleted uranium (DU) particles escaped from the National Lead
Industries factory near Albany, N.Y.,which was manufacturing DU weapons for
the U.S military. The particles traveled 26 miles and were discovered in a
laboratory filter by Dr. Leonard Dietz, a nuclear physicist. This discovery
led to a shut down of the factory in 1980, for releasing morethan 0.85 pounds
of DU dust into the atmosphere every month, and involved a cleanup of
contaminated properties costing over 100 million dollars.

Imagine a far worse scenario. Terrorists acquire a million pounds of the
deadly dust and scatter it in populated areas throughout the U.S. Hundreds of
children report symptoms. Many acquire cancer and leukemia, suffering an
early and painful death. Huge increases in severe birth defects are reported.
Oncologists are overwhelmed. Soccer fields, sand lots and parks, traditional
play areas for kids, are no longer safe. People lose their most basic
freedom, the ability to go outside and safely breathe. Sounds worse than
9/11? Welcome to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dr. Jawad Al-Ali (55), director of the Oncology Center at the largest hospital
in Basra, Iraq stated, at a recent ( 2003) conference in Japan:

"Two strange phenomena have come about in Basra which I have never seen
before. The first is double and triple cancers in one patient. For example,
leukemia and cancer of the stomach. We had one patient with 2 cancers - one
in his stomach and kidney. Months later, primary cancer was developing in his
other kidney--he had three different cancer types. The second is the
clustering of cancer in families. We have 58 families here with more than one
person affected by cancer. Dr Yasin, a general Surgeon here has two uncles, a
sister and cousin affected with cancer. Dr Mazen, another specialist, has six
family members suffering from cancer. My wife has nine members of her family
with cancer".

"Children in particular are susceptible to DU poisoning. They have a much
higher absorption rate as their blood is being used to build and nourish
their bones and they have a lot of soft tissues. Bone cancer and leukemia
used to be diseases affecting them the most, however, cancer of the lymph
system which can develop anywhere on the body, and has rarely been seen
before the age of 12 is now also common.",

"We were accused of spreading propaganda for Saddam before the war. When I
have gone to do talks I have had people accuse me of being pro-Saddam.
Sometimes I feel afraid to even talk. Regime people have been stealing my
data and calling it their own, and using it for their own agendas. The
Kuwaitis banned me from entering Kuwait - we were accused of being Saddam

John Hanchette, a journalism professor at St. Bonaventure University, and one
of the founding editors of USA TODAY related the following to DU researcher
Leuren Moret. He stated that he had prepared news breaking stories about
the effects of DU on Gulf War soldiers and Iraqi citizens, but that each time
he was ready to publish, he received a phone call from the Pentagon asking
him not to print the story. He has since been replaced as editor of USA

Dr. Keith Baverstock, The World Health Organization's chief expert on
radiation and health for 11 years and author of an unpublished study has
charged that his report " on the cancer risk to civilians in Iraq from
breathing uranium contaminated dust " was also deliberately suppressed.

The information released by the U.S. Dept. of Defense is not reliable,
according to some sources even within the military.

In 1997, while citing experiments, by others, in which 84 percent of dogs
exposed to inhaled uranium died of cancer of the lungs, Dr. Asaf Durakovic,
then Professor of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Georgetown University in
Washington was quoted as saying,

"The [US government's] Veterans Administration asked me to lie about the risks
of incorporating depleted uranium in the human body."

At that time Dr. Durakovic was a colonel in the U.S. Army. He has since left
the military, to found the Uranium Medical Research Center, a privately
funded organization with headquarters in Canada.

PFC Stuart Grainger of 23 Army Division, 34th Platoon. (Names and numbers have
been changed) was diagnosed with cancer several after returning from Iraq.
Seven other men in the Platoon also have malignancies.

Doug Rokke, U.S. Army contractor who headed a clean-up of depleted uranium
after the first Gulf War states:,

"Depleted uranium is a crime against God and humanity."

Rokke's own crew, a hundred employees, was devastated by exposure to the fine
dust. He stated:

"When we went to the Gulf, we were all really healthy,"

After performing clean-up operations in the desert (mistakenly without
protective gear), 30 members of his staff died, and most others"including
Rokke himself"developed serious health problems. Rokke now has reactive
airway disease, neurological damage, cataracts, and kidney problems.

"We warned the Department of Defense in 1991 after the Gulf War. Their
arrogance is beyond comprehension.

Yet the D.O.D still insists such ingestion is "not sufficient to make troops
seriously ill in most cases."

Then why did it make the clean up crew seriously or terminally ill in nearly
all cases?

Marion Falk, a retired chemical physicist who built nuclear bombs for more
than 20 years at Lawrence Livermore Lab, was asked if he thought that DU
weapons operate in a similar manner as a dirty bomb.

"That's exactly what they are. They fit the description of a dirty bomb in
every way."

According to Falk, more than 30 percent of the DU fired from the cannons of
U.S. tanks is reduced to particles one-tenth of a micron (one millionth of a
meter) in size or smaller on impact. "The larger the bang" the greater the
amount of DU that is dispersed into the atmosphere, Falk said. With the
larger missiles and bombs, nearly 100 percent of the DU is reduced to
radioactive dust particles of the "micron size" or smaller, he said.

When asked if the main purpose for using it was for destroying things and
killing people, Falk was more specific:
"I would say that it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people."

When a DU round or bomb strikes a hard target, most of its kinetic energy is
converted to heat " sufficient heat to ignite the DU. From 40% to 70% of the
DU is converted to extremely fine dust particles of ceramic uranium oxide
(primarily dioxide, though other formulations also occur). Over 60% of these
particles are smaller than 5 microns in diameter, about the same size as the
cigarette ash particles in cigarette smoke and therefore respirable.

Because conditions are so chaotic in Iraq, the medical infrastructure has been
greatly compromised. In terms of both cancer and birth defects due to DU,
only a small fraction of the cases are being reported.

Doctors in southern Iraq are making comparisons to the birth defects that
followed the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII. They have
numerous photos of infants born without brains, with their internal organs
outside their bodies, without sexual organs, without spines, and the list of
deformities goes on an on. Such birth defects were extremely rare in Iraq
prior to the large scale use of DU. Weapons. Now they are commonplace. In
hospitals across Iraq, the mothers are no longer asking, "Doctor, is it a boy
or girl?" but rather, "Doctor, is it normal?" The photos are horrendous,
they can be viewed on the following website

Ross B. Mirkarimi, a spokesman at The Arms Control Research Centre stated:

"Unborn children of the region are being asked to pay the highest price, the
integrity of their DNA."

Prior to her death from leukemia in Sept. 2004, Nuha Al Radi , an accomplished
Iraqi artist and author of the "Baghdad Diaries" wrote:

"Everyone seems to be dying of cancer. Every day one hears about another
acquaintance or friend of a friend dying. How many more die in hospitals that
one does not know? Apparently, over thirty percent of Iraqis have cancer, and
there are lots of kids with leukemia."

"The depleted uranium left by the U.S. bombing campaign has turned Iraq into a
cancer-infested country. For hundreds of years to come, the effects of the
uranium will continue to wreak havoc on Iraq and its surrounding areas."

This excerpt in her diary was written in 1993, after Gulf War I (Approximately
300 tons of DU ordinance, mostly in desert areas) but before Operation Iraqi
Freedom, (Est. 1,700 tons with much more near major population centers). So,
it's 5-6 times worse now than it was when she wrote than diary entry!!
Estimates of the percentage of D.U. which was 'aerosolized' into fine uranium
oxide dust are approximately 30-40%. That works out to over one million
pounds of dust scattered throughout Iraq.

As a special advisor to the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and
the Iraqi Ministry of Health, Dr. Ahmad Hardan has documented the effects of
DU in Iraq between 1991 and 2002.

"American forces admit to using over 300 tons of DU weapons in 1991. The
actual figure is closer to 800. This has caused a health crisis that has
affected almost a third of a million people. As if that was not enough,
America went on and used 200 tons more in Bagdad alone during the recent

I don"t know about other parts of Iraq, it will take me years to document

"In Basra, it took us two years to obtain conclusive proof of what DU does,
but we now know what to look for and the results are terrifying."

By far the most devastating effect is on unborn children. Nothing can prepare
anyone for the sight of hundreds of preserved fetuses " scarcely human in
appearance. Iraq is now seeing babies with terribly foreshortened limbs, with
their intestines outside their bodies, with huge bulging tumors where their
eyes should be, or with a single eye-like Cyclops, or without eyes, or
without limbs, and even without heads. Significantly, some of the defects are
almost unknown outside textbooks showing the babies born near A-bomb test
sites in the Pacific.

Dr. Hardan also states:

"I arranged for a delegation from Japan's Hiroshima Hospital to come and share
their expertise in the radiological diseases we

Are likely to face over time. The delegation told me the Americans had
objected and they decided not to come. Similarly, a world famous German
cancer specialist agreed to come, only to be told later that he would not be
given permission to enter Iraq."

Not only are we poisoning the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, but we are
making a concerted effort to keep out specialists from other countries who
can help. The U.S. Military doesn"t want the rest of the world to find out
what we have done.

Such relatively swift development of cancers has been reported by doctors in
hospitals treating civilians following NATO bombing with DU in Yugoslavia in
1998-1999 and the US military invasion of Iraq using DU for the first time in
1991. Medical experts report that this phenomenon of multiple malignancies
from unrelated causes has been unknown until now and is a new syndrome
associated with internal DU exposure.
Just 467 US personnel were wounded in the three-week Persian Gulf War in
1990-1991. Out of 580,400 soldiers who served in Gulf War I, 11,000 are dead,
and by 2000 there were 325,000 on permanent medical disability. This
astounding number of disabled vets means that a decade later, 56 percent of
those soldiers who served in the first Gulf War now have medical problems.

Although not reported in the mainstream American press, a recent Tokyo
tribunal, guided by the principles of International Criminal Law and
International Humanitarian Law, found President George W. Bush guilty of war
crimes. On March 14, 2004, Nao Shimoyachi, reported in The Japan Times that
President Bush was found guilty "for attacking civilians with indiscriminate
weapons and other arms,"and the "tribunal also issued recommendations for
banning Depleted Uranium shells and other weapons that indiscriminately harm
people." Although this was a "Citizen's Court" having no legal authority,
the participants were sincere in their determination that international laws
have been violated and a war crimes conviction is warranted.

Troops involved in actual combat are not the only servicemen reporting
symptoms. Four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving
in Iraq are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military
Police, who say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that
began last summer in the Iraqi town of Samawah.

"I got sick instantly in June," said Staff Sgt. Ray Ramos, a Brooklyn housing
cop. "My health kept going downhill with daily headaches, constant numbness
in my hands and rashes on my stomach."

Dr. Asaf Durakovic, UMRC founder, and nuclear medicine expert examined and
tested nine soldiers from the company says that four "almost certainly"
inhaled radioactive dust from exploded American shells manufactured with
depleted uranium. Laboratory tests revealed traces of two manmade forms of
uranium in urine samples from four of the soldiers.

If so, the men - Sgt. Hector Vega, Sgt. Ray Ramos, Sgt. Agustin Matos and Cpl.
Anthony Yonnone - are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium
exposure from the current Iraq conflict.

The 442nd, made up for the most part of New York cops, firefighters and
correction officers, is based in Orangeburg, Rockland County. Dispatched to
Iraq in Easter of 2003, the unit's members had been providing guard duty for
convoys, running jails and training Iraqi police. The entire company is due
to return home later this month.

"These are amazing results, especially since these soldiers were military
police not exposed to the heat of battle," said Dr. Asaf Duracovic, who
examined the G.I.s and performed the testing.

In a group of eight U.S. led Coalition servicemen whose babies were born
without eyes, seven are known to have been directly exposed to DU dust. In a
much group (250 soldiers) exposed during the first Gulf war, 67% of the
children conceived after the war had birth defects.

Dr. Durakovic's UMRC research team also conducted a three-week field trip to
Iraq in October of 2003. It collected about 100 samples of substances such as
soil, civilian urine and the tissue from the corpses of Iraqi soldiers in 10
cities, including Baghdad, Basra and Najaf. Durakovic said preliminary tests
show that the air, soil and water samples contained "hundreds to thousands of
times" the normal levels of radiation.

"This high level of contamination is because much more depleted uranium was
used this year than in (the Gulf War of) 1991," Durakovic told The Japan

"They are hampering efforts to prove the connection between Depleted Uranium
and the illness," Durakovic said

"They do not want to admit that they committed war crimes" by using weapons
that kill indiscriminately, which are banned under international law."

(NOTE ABOUT DR. DURAKOVIC; First, he was warned to stop his work, then he was
fired from his position, then his house was ransacked, and he has also
reported receiving death threats. Evidently the U.S. D.O.D is very keen on
censoring DU whistle-blowers!)

Dr. Durakovic, UMRC research associates Patricia Horan and Leonard Dietz,
published a unique study in the August 2002 issue of Military Medicine
Medical Journal. The study is believed to be the first to look at inhaled DU
among Gulf War veterans, using the ultrasensitive technique of thermal
ionization mass spectrometry, which enabled them to easily distinguish
between natural uranium and DU. The study, which examined British, Canadian
and U.S. veterans, all suffering typical Gulf War Syndrome ailments, found
that, nine years after the war, 14 of 27 veterans studied had DU in their
urine. DU also was found in the lung and bone of a deceased Gulf War veteran.
That no governmental study has been done on inhaled DU "amounts to a massive
malpractice," Dietz said in an interview.

The Japanese began studying DU effects in the southern Iraq in the summer of
2003. They had a Geiger counter which they watched go off the scale on many
occasions. During their visit,a local hospital was treating upwards of 600
children per day, many of which suffered symptoms of internal poisoning by
radiation. 600 children per day? How many of these children will get cancer
and suffer and early and painful death?

"Ingested DU particles can cause up to 1,000 times the damage of an X-ray",
said Mary Olson, a nuclear waste specialist and biologist at the Nuclear
Information and Resource Service in Washington D.C.

It is this difference in particle size as well as the dust's crystalline
structure that make the presence of DU dust in the environment such an
extreme hazard, and which differentiates its properties from that of the
natural uranium dust that is ubiquitous and to which we all are exposed every
day, which seldom reaches such a small size. This point is being stressed,
as comparing DU particles to much larger natural ones is misleading.

The U.S. Military and its supporters regularly quote a Rand Corp. Study which
uses the natural uranium inhaled by miners.

Particles smaller than 10 microns can access the innermost recesses of lung
tissue where they become permanently lodged. Furthermore, if the substance is
relatively insoluble, such as the ceramic DU-oxide dust produced from burning
DU, it will remain in place for decades, dissolving very slowly into the
bloodstream and lymphatic fluids through the course of time. Studies have
identified DU in the urine of Gulf War veterans nine years after that
conflict, testifying to the permanence of ceramic DU-oxide in the lungs.
Thus the effects are far different from natural uranium dust, whose coarse
particles are almost entirely excreted by the body within 24 hours.

The military is aware of DU's harmful effects on the human genetic code. A
2001 study of DU's effect on DNA done by Dr. Alexandra C. Miller for the
Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., indicates that
DU's chemical instability causes 1 million times more genetic damage than
would be expected from its radiation effect alone.

Studies have shown that inhaled nano-particles are far more toxic than
micro-sized particles of the same basic chemical composition. British
toxicopathologist Vyvyan Howard has reported that the increased toxicity of
the nano-particle is due to its size.

For example, when mice were exposed to virus-size particles of Teflon (0.13
microns) in a University of Rochester study, there were no ill effects. But
when mice were exposed to nano-particles of Teflon for 15 minutes, nearly all
the mice died within 4 hours.

"Exposure pathways for depleted uranium can be through the skin, by
inhalation, and ingestion," writes Lauren Moret, another DU researcher.
"Nano-particles have high mobility and can easily enter the body. Inhalation
of nano-particles of depleted uranium is the most hazardous exposure, because
the particles pass through the lung-blood barrier directly into the blood.

"When inhaled through the nose, nano-particles can cross the olfactory bulb
directly into the brain through the blood brain barrier, where they migrate
all through the brain," she wrote. "Many Gulf era soldiers exposed to
depleted uranium have been diagnosed with brain tumors, brain damage and
impaired thought processes. Uranium can interfere with the mitochondria,
which provide energy for the nerve processes, and transmittal of the nerve
signal across synapses in the brain.

Based on dissolution and excretion rate data, it is possible to approximate
the amount of DU initially inhaled by these veterans. For the handful of
veterans studied, this amount averaged 0.34 milligrams. Knowing the specific
activity (radiation rate) for DU allows one to determine that the total
radiation (alpha, beta and gamma) occurring from DU and its radioactive decay
products within their bodies comes to about 26 radiation events every second,
or 800 million events each year. At .34 milligrams per dose, there are over
10 trillion doses floating around Iraq and Afghanistan.

How many additional deaths are we talking about? In the aftermath of the first
Gulf War, the UK Atomic Energy Authority came up with estimates for the
potential effects of the DU contamination left by the conflict. It calculated
that "this could cause "500,000 potential deaths". This was "a theoretical
figure", it stressed, that indicated "a significant problem".

The AEA's calculation was made in a confidential memo to the privatized
munitions company, Royal Ordnance, dated 30 April 1991. The high number of
potential deaths was dismissed as "very far from realistic" by a British
defense minister, Lord Gilbert. "Since the rounds were fired in the desert,
many miles from the nearest village, it is highly unlikely that the local
population would have been exposed to any significant amount of respirable
oxide," he said. These remarks were made prior to the more recent invasions
of both Afghanistan and Iraq, where DU munitions were used on a larger scale
in and near many of the most populated areas. If the amount of DU ordinance
used in the first Gulf War was sufficient to cause 500,000 potential deaths,
(had it been used near the populated areas), then what of the nearly six
times that amount used in operation Iraqi Freedom, which was used in and near
the major towns and cities? Extrapolating the U.K. AEA estimate with this
amount gives a figure of potentially 3 million extra deaths from inhaling DU
dust in Iraq alone, not including Afghanistan. This is about 11% of Iraq's
total population of 27 million. Dan Bishop, Ph.d chemist for IDUST feels that
this estimate may be low, if the long life of DU dust is considered. In
Afghanistan, the concentration in some areas is greater than Iraq.

What can an otherwise healthy person expect when inhaling the deadly dust?
Captain Terry Riordon was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces serving in
Gulf War I. He passed away in April 1999 at age 45. Terry left Canada a very
fit man who did cross-country skiing and ran in marathons. On his return only
two months later he could barely walk.

He returned to Canada in February 1991 with documented loss of motor control,
chronic fatigue, respiratory difficulties, chest pain, difficulty breathing,
sleep problems, short-term memory loss, testicle pain, body pains, aching
bones, diarrhea, and depression. After his death, depleted uranium
contamination was discovered in his lungs and bones. For eight years he
suffered his innumerable ailments and struggled with the military bureaucracy
and the system to get proper diagnosis and treatment. He had arranged, upon
his death, to bequeath his body to the UMRC. Through his gift, the UMRC was
able to obtain conclusive evidence that inhaling fine particles of depleted
uranium dust completely destroyed his heath. How many Terry Riordans are out
there among the troops being exposed, not to mention Iraqi and Afghan

Inhaling the dust will not kill large numbers of Iraqi and Afghan civilians
right away, any more than it did Captain Riordan. Rather, what we will see is
vast numbers of people who are chronically and severely ill, having their
life spans drastically shortened, many with multiple cancers.

Melissa Sterry, another sick veteran, served for six months at a supply base
in Kuwait during the winter of 1991-92. Part of her job with the National
Guard's Combat Equipment Company "A" was to clean out tanks and other armored
vehicles that had been used during the war, preparing them for storage.

She said she swept out the armored vehicles, cleaning up dust, sand and
debris, sometimes being ordered to help bury contaminated parts. In a
telephone interview, she stated that after researching depleted uranium she
chose not to take the military's test because she could not trust the
results. It is alarming that Melissa was stationed in Kuwait, not Iraq.
Cleaning out tanks with DU dust was enough to make her ill.

In, 2003, the Christian Science Monitor sent reporters to Iraq to investigate
long-term effects of depleted uranium. Staff writer Scott Peterson saw
children playing on top of a burnt-out tank near a vegetable stand on the
outskirts of Baghdad, a tank that had been destroyed by armor-piercing shells
coated with depleted uranium. Wearing his mask and protective clothing, he
pointed his Geiger counter toward the tank. It registered 1,000 times the
normal background radiation. If the troops were on a mission of mercy to
bring democracy to Iraq, wouldn"t keeping children away from such dangers be
the top priority?

The laws of war prohibit the use of weapons that have deadly and inhumane
effects beyond the field of battle. Nor can weapons be legally deployed in
war when they are known to remain active, or cause harm after the war
concludes. It is no surprise that the Japanese Court found President Bush
guilty of war crimes.

Dr. Alim Yacoub of Basra University conducted an epidemiological study into
incidences of malignancies in children under fifteen years old, in the Basra
area (an area bombed with DU during the first Gulf War). They found over the
1990 to 1999 period, there was a 242% rise. That was before the recent
In Kosovo, similar spikes in cancer and birth defects were noticed by numerous
international experts, although the quantity of DU weapons used was only a
small fraction of what was used in Iraq.


Verifiable statistics for Iraq will remain elusive for some time, but
widespread field studies in Afghanistan point to the existence of a large
scale public health disaster. In May of 2002, the UMRC (Uranium Medical
Research Center) sent a field team to interview and examine residents and
internally displaced people in Afghanistan. The UMRC field team began by
first identifying several hundred people suffering from illnesses and medical
conditions displaying clinical symptoms which are considered to be
characteristic of radiation exposure. To investigate the possibility that
the symptoms were due to radiation sickness, the UMRC team collected urine
specimens and soil samples, transporting them to an independent research lab
in England.

UMRC's Field Team found Afghan civilians with acute symptoms of radiation
poisoning, along with chronic symptoms of internal uranium contamination,
including congenital problems in newborns. Local civilians reported large,
dense dust clouds and smoke plumes rising from the point of impact, an acrid
smell, followed by burning of the nasal passages, throat and upper
respiratory tract. Subjects in all locations presented identical symptom
profiles and chronologies. The victims reported symptoms including pain in
the cervical column, upper shoulders and basal area of the skull, lower
back/kidney pain, joint and muscle weakness, sleeping difficulties,
headaches, memory problems and disorientation.

Two additional scientific study teams were sent to Afghanistan. The first
arrived in June 2002, concentrating on the Jalalabad region. The second
arrived four months later, broadening the study to include the capital Kabul,
which has a population of nearly 3.5 million people. The city itself contains
the highest recorded number of fixed targets during Operation Enduring
Freedom. For the study's purposes, the vicinity of three major bomb sites
were examined. It was predicted that signatures of depleted or enriched
uranium would be found in the urine and soil samples taken during the
research. The team was unprepared for the shock of its findings, which
indicated in both Jalalabad and Kabul, DU was causing the high levels of
illness. Tests taken from a number of Jalalabad subjects showed
concentrations 400% to 2000% above that for normal populations, amounts which
have not been recorded in civilian studies before.

Those in Kabul who were directly exposed to US-British precision bombing
showed extreme signs of contamination, consistent with uranium exposure.
These included pains in joints, back/kidney pain, muscle weakness, memory
problems and confusion and disorientation. Those exposed to the bombing
report symptoms of flu-type illnesses, bleeding, runny noses and
blood-stained mucous. How many of these people will suffer a painful and
early death from cancer? Even the study team itself complained of similar
symptoms during their stay. Most of these symptoms last for days or months.

In August of 2002, UMRC completed its preliminary analysis of the results from
Nangarhar. Without exception, every person donating urine specimens tested
positive for uranium contamination. The specific results indicated an
astoundingly high level of contamination; concentrations were 100 to 400
times greater than those of the Gulf War Veterans tested in 1999. A
researcher reported. "We took both soil and biological samples, and found
considerable presence in urine samples of radioactivity; the heavy
concentration astonished us. They were beyond our wildest imagination."

In the fall of 2002, the UMRC field team went back to Afghanistan for a
broader survey, and revealed a potentially larger exposure than initially
anticipated. Approximately 30% of those interviewed in the affected areas
displayed symptoms of radiation sickness. New born babies were among those
displaying symptoms, with village elders reporting that over 25% of the
infants were inexplicably ill.

How widespread and extensive is the exposure? A quote from the UMRC field
report reads:

"The UMRC field team was shocked by the breadth of public health impacts
coincident with the bombing. Without exception, at every bombsite
investigated, people are ill. A significant portion of the civilian
population presents symptoms consistent with internal contamination by

In Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, UMRC lab results indicated high concentrations of
NON-DEPLETED URANIUM, with the concentrations being much higher than in DU
victims from Iraq. Afghanistan was used as a testing ground for a new
generation of "bunker buster" bombs containing high concentrations of other
uranium alloys.

"A significant portion of the civilian population"? It appears that by going
after a handful of terrorists in Afghanistan we have poisoned a huge number
of innocent civilians, with a disproportionate number of them being children.

The military has found depleted uranium in the urine of some soldiers but
contends it was not enough to make them seriously ill in most cases. Critics
have asked for more sensitive, more expensive testing.


According to an October 2004 Dispatch from the Italian Military Health
Observatory, a total of 109 Italian soldiers have died thus far due to
exposure to depleted uranium. A spokesman at the Military Health
Observatory, Domenico Leggiero, states "The total of 109 casualties exceeds
the total number of persons dying as a consequence of road accidents. Anyone
denying the significance of such data is purely acting out of ill faith, and
the truth is that our soldiers are dying out there due to a lack of adequate
protection against depleted uranium". Members of the Observatory have
petitioned for an urgent hearing "in order to study effective prevention and
safeguard measures aimed at reducing the death-toll amongst our serving

There were only 3,000 Italian soldiers sent to Iraq, and they were there for a
short time. The number of 109 represents about 3.6% of the total. If the
same percentage of Iraqis get a similar exposure, that would amount to
936,000. As Iraqis are permanently living in the same contaminated
environment, their percentage will be higher.

The Pentagon/DoD have interfered with UMRC's ability to have its studies
published by managing, a progressive and persistent misinformation program in
the press against UMRC, and through the use of its control of science
research grants to refute UMRC's scientific findings and destroy the
reputation of UMRC's scientific staff, physicians and laboratories. UMRC is
the first independent research organization to find Depleted Uranium in the
bodies of US, UK and Canadian Gulf War I veterans and has subsequently,
following Operation Iraqi Freedom, found Depleted Uranium in the water, soils
and atmosphere of Iraq as well as biological samples donated by Iraqi
civilians. Yet the first thing that comes up on Internet searches are these
supposed "studies repeatedly showing DU to be harmless." The technique is to
approach the story as a debate between government and independent experts in
which public interest is stimulated by polarizing the issues rather than
telling the scientific and medical truth. The issues are systematically
confused and misinformed by government, UN regulatory agencies (WHO, UNEP,
IAEA, CDC, DOE, etc) and defense sector (military and the weapons developers
and manufacturers).

Dr. Yuko Fujita, an assistant professor at Keio University, Japan who examined
the effects of radioactivity in Iraq from May to June, 2003, said : "I doubt
that Iraq is fabricating data because in fact there are many children
suffering from leukemia in hospitals," Fujita said. "As a result of the Iraq
war, the situation will be desperate in some five to 10 years."

The March 14, 2004 Tokyo Citizen's Tribunal that "convicted" President Bush
gave the following summation regarding DU weapons: (This court was a
citizen's court with no binding legal authority)

1. Their use has indiscriminate effects;

2. Their use is out of proportion with the pursuit of military objectives;

3. Their use adversely affects the environment in a widespread, long term
and severe manner;

4. Their use causes superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering.

Two years ago, President Bush withdrew the United States as a signatory to the
International Criminal Court's statute, which has been ratified by all other
Western democracies. The White House actually seeks to immunize U.S. leaders
from war crimes prosecutions entirely. It has also demanded express immunity
from ICC prosecution for American nationals.


If terrorists succeeded in spreading something throughout the U.S. that ended
up causing hundreds of thousands of cancer cases and birth defects over a
period of many years, they would be guilty of a crime against humanity that
far surpasses the Sept. 11th attacks in scope and severity. Although not
deliberate, with our military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have done
just that. If the physical environment is so unsafe and unhealthy that one
cannot safely breath, then the outer trappings of democracy have little
meaning. At least under Saddam, the Iraqi people could stay healthy and
conceive normal children. Few Americans are aware that in getting rid of
Saddam, we left something much worse in his place.



Black-farmers settlement assessed



Tuesday, April 18, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Seven years since a landmark settlement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and black farmers, Congress is sorting out what went right, what went wrong and whether to intervene.


The watchdog arm of Congress issued a report yesterday totaling the winners, the losers and the tens of thousands who got shut out from relief under the 1999 settlement of a class-action lawsuit over discrimination in loans and other credit programs.

Activists on behalf of more than 71,000 farmers or family members who sought unsuccessfully to file claims late under the settlement and weren't even considered for payments said they hope the Government Accountability Office study will help prod Congress to re-open those cases.

"Based on all these findings, it's reason for Congress to expedite a fix -- to fix this mess," said John W. Boyd Jr. of Baskerville, Va., president of the National Black Farmers Association. "Here we are seven years later, and this report is saying how messed up this thing is."

The report, combined with black farmers' plans to rally in Washington next week, "ought to help open the eyes of some Congresspeople," said Gary Grant of Tillery, N.C., president of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association.

Of about 22,400 claims decided by January of this year, 14,300, or 64 percent, were approved for payments and benefits to black farmers totaling more than $900 million, the GAO said.

Meanwhile, 8,100 claims, or 36 percent, were denied, the federal agency said.

When a federal judge handled the case, he estimated that 15,000 to 20,000 black farmers might qualify under the settlement. Yet five to six times more people ultimately submitted claims, including nearly 74,000 that were late, the GAO said.

When officials monitoring the settlement initiated reviews requested by individual black farmers of decisions on their claims, the farmers prevailed in more than 90 percent of 1,344 cases reviewed, according to the GAO.

The GAO suggested that the USDA might consider establishing an ombudsman to address civil-rights issues.

In 2004, a House of Representatives panel was told that many black farmers didn't submit timely claims because the settlement was not well advertised. A fix, to allow those farmers who filed late to have their claims heard on merits, was discussed but not enacted.

"This issue remains an ongoing oversight interest of the committee," a spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee, Jeff Lungren, said yesterday.

Rep. Robert C. Scott, D-3rd District, was among lawmakers requesting the report.

The independent government report, Scott said, "re-emphasizes the fact that an overwhelming number of people were not notified [about the settlement] and are losing their case on a technicality," Scott said yesterday.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the report "highlights the enormous obstacle placed between the nation's black farmers and justice. Not only have farmers been kept from farm programs through USDA, but they have also been kept from court-ordered redress."

USDA spokesman Ed Loyd said the Agriculture Department's office of assistant secretary for civil rights performs the role an ombudsman might fill.

Vernon B. Parker, the first person to hold that civil-rights post, was sworn in April 2003 and announced his resignation in December. Loyd said an effort is under way to find a replacement quickly.

U.S. Judge Paul L. Friedman, signing the black farmers settlement April 14, 1999, condemned decades of discrimination by USDA and deplored its "devastating" impact upon the nation's dwindling number of black farmers.

Contact Washington correspondent Peter Hardin at or (202) 662-7669.