The Testing Scandal - Accurate Testing for All Returning Troops?
Both the British and US governments have claimed that lessons will be learned from the last Gulf War where little accurate health data was collected. When veterans subsequently became ill it was difficult for them to prove their claims without benchmark data. But the reality and the hope for accurate testing for today's soldiers is now looking unlikely.
The US Congress had passed a law stating that the military had to collect health data on troops both before and after deployment. However it was only after the Pentagon found out that campaigners were planning a full page ad showing how the Pentagon was violating this law by not screening soldier's blood that they backed down and agreed that all troops would be screened. But as campaigners TomPaine.com who were placing the ad, have shown, this is no "victory for the troops. The Pentagon is still not admitting culpability: they clearly violated the law at the expense of soldiers' health. They have not promised to undertake the legally mandated medical exams for any troops still being deployed. And, according to Dr. John Moxley - who testified before a congressional committee on these matters - post-deployment exams will be of questionable value because the pre-deployment data is not comprehensive."
In Britain the scenario is also underhand. Readers of CADU News will remember how the Government hastily said that all troops would be tested for DU after the Royal Society made public the dangers it posed. The test, a urine analysis, that they are offering is now known to be inaccurate. The Government knows this too as they have spent three years funding an accurate test, developed at a University of Leicester laboratory. This test, however, will not be offered to troops returning from Iraq from this conflict but only for veterans from the Gulf War 12 years ago. The test that returning troops from this conflict will be offered is known to give negative results when an exposure has taken place. It has also shown itself to be unable to pick up uranium isotopes way above average levels.
Nor is the new test expensive, which leaves an important question as to why it is not being offered to troops now. As at least some DU is lost progressively over time through urine, it is important that all returning soldiers are offered accurate tests now if their true exposure levels are ever to be known.
This is a scandal that will again prevent us from ever being able to correlate DU exposure with ill health and is indicative of the British Government's record on this issue: Don't Look, Don't Find.
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Page last updated: January 28, 2003