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Basra poison grain disaster

The Basra posion grain disaster was a mass methylmercury poisoning incident that occurred in September 1971 in the Iraqi port of Basra. A shipment of 90,000 metric tons of American barley and Mexican wheat that was intended as seed grain arrived that had been treated with antifungal methylmercury to prevent rot. The grain was intended to be delivered to farmers and had been marked as poisonous both by dying the grain pink and with warnings printed on the bags. The warnings were printed only in English and Spanish, however, and before the grain could be delivered a large quantity was stolen from the docks and sold as food to the local population.

The poisoning incident was kept quiet by the Iraqi government and it wasn't until 1973 that an American reporter uncovered evidence of 6,530 cases of mercury poisoning treated in the local hospitals. Iraqi officials eventually admitted 459 deaths, but it is thought that there may have been significantly more.


  • Engler, Robert (April 27 1985). "Technology out of Control". The Nation 240.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Basra_poison_grain_disaster". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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