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| Splitting more than hairs|
The WHO-IAEA conspiracy is a conspiracy theory stating that the World Health Organization is subordinate to the International Atomic Energy Agency when it comes to publishing research about the health effects of radiation and nuclear technologies, or in other words, that IAEA has veto power over any "inconvenient" information coming from the WHO. This theory traces back to an actual agreement between the two agencies reached in 1959, which contains nothing of the sort. The theory is often used by the anti-nuclear movement to dismiss WHO reports on nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl, which show that the health effects of radioactive releases are generally minor and far less severe than impacts from the fear of radiation.
Text of the WHO-IAEA agreement
Below is the full text of the first article, which is the most relevant.
AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY AND THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Anti-nuclear campaigners typically show the third clause without showing the second. The highlighted part of the second clause recognizes that the IAEA cannot order WHO to do anything that would hinder its mission. The WHO itself has also stated that it is not subordinate to the IAEA.
The theory has its dedicated promotion group, Independent WHO, operating mainly from France and composed primarily of French and Swiss anti-nuclear organizations. The group's "Our Demands" page includes outright quackery, mentioning "daily administration of apple pectin" as a way to increase the elimination of radionuclides from the body. This claim can be traced directly to the pseudoscientific and thoroughly discredited book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.
The following anti-nuclear groups and people also endorse this conspiracy theory:
- Low Level Radiation Campaign
- Nuclear Information and Resource Service
- Nuclear Energy Information Service (Illinois anti-nuclear group)
- Helen Caldicott
- WHO Statement: Interpretation of the World Health Organization's agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency
- Independent WHO: Our Demands