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The Iraqi grain incident –  In 1971, the Persian Gulf region suffered a catasthrophic drought that wiped out wheat production where little seed was left. 178,000 tons of wheat seed was imported from Mexico. The grain was treated with methyl-mercury (some cases with ethyl-mercury) as a fungicide and the grain sack painted with skull-and-crossbones meant “poison”. The grain meant for seed for planting only but some villagers ground into flour to make bread. Then the symptoms began. First there was burning or prickling of the skin and fuzzy eyesight. Next came loss of muscle coordination, blindness, hearing loss, coma and sometimes death. Six thousand people hospitalized and 450 died. See also what happened in Minamata Bay in Japan.

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