Agent Orange

Agent Orange

Overview
Agent Orange is the code name for one of the herbicide
Herbicide
Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are pesticides used to kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often synthetic "imitations" of plant...

s and defoliant
Defoliant
A defoliant is any chemical sprayed or dusted on plants to cause its leaves to fall off. A classic example of a highly toxic defoliant is Agent Orange, which the United States armed forces used abundantly to defoliate regions of Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1970.Defoliants differ...

s used by the U.S. military
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 as part of its herbicidal warfare
Herbicidal warfare
Herbicidal warfare is a form of Chemical warfare in which the objective is to destroy the plant-based ecosystem of an area. In contrast to other forms, its use is not prohibited by international agreement...

 program, Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand was a U.S. Military operation during the Vietnam War, lasting from 1962 until 1971. It was part of the overall herbicidal warfare program during the war called "Operation Trail Dust"...

, during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.

A 50:50 mixture of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, it was manufactured for the U.S. Department of Defense primarily by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical.
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Encyclopedia
Agent Orange is the code name for one of the herbicide
Herbicide
Herbicides, also commonly known as weedkillers, are pesticides used to kill unwanted plants. Selective herbicides kill specific targets while leaving the desired crop relatively unharmed. Some of these act by interfering with the growth of the weed and are often synthetic "imitations" of plant...

s and defoliant
Defoliant
A defoliant is any chemical sprayed or dusted on plants to cause its leaves to fall off. A classic example of a highly toxic defoliant is Agent Orange, which the United States armed forces used abundantly to defoliate regions of Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1970.Defoliants differ...

s used by the U.S. military
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 as part of its herbicidal warfare
Herbicidal warfare
Herbicidal warfare is a form of Chemical warfare in which the objective is to destroy the plant-based ecosystem of an area. In contrast to other forms, its use is not prohibited by international agreement...

 program, Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand was a U.S. Military operation during the Vietnam War, lasting from 1962 until 1971. It was part of the overall herbicidal warfare program during the war called "Operation Trail Dust"...

, during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 from 1961 to 1971. Vietnam estimates 400,000 people were killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.

A 50:50 mixture of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D, it was manufactured for the U.S. Department of Defense primarily by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical. The 2,4,5-T used to produce Agent Orange was later discovered to be contaminated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin
2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin
2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin is a polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin . It is the most potent compound of the series and became known as a contaminant in Agent Orange, a herbicide used in the Vietnam War, as well as the Seveso disaster...

, an extremely toxic dioxin compound. It was given its name from the color of the orange-striped 55 US gallon (208 L) barrels
Drum (container)
A drum is a cylindrical container used for shipping bulk cargo. Drums can be made of steel, dense paperboard , or plastics, and are generally used for the transportation and storage of liquids and powders. Drums are often certified for shipment of dangerous goods...

 in which it was shipped, and was by far the most widely used of the so-called "Rainbow Herbicides
Rainbow Herbicides
The Rainbow Herbicides are a group of chemicals used by the United States military in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Success with Project AGILE field tests with herbicides in South Vietnam in 1961 led to the formal herbicidal program Trail Dust...

".

During the Vietnam War, between 1962 and 1971, the United States military sprayed nearly 20000000 gallons (75,708,240 l) of chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand was a U.S. Military operation during the Vietnam War, lasting from 1962 until 1971. It was part of the overall herbicidal warfare program during the war called "Operation Trail Dust"...

. The program's goal was to defoliate forested and rural land, depriving guerrillas of cover; another goal was to induce forced draft urbanization
Forced draft urbanization
Forced draft urbanization was a policy elaborated by Samuel P. Huntington in a 1968 article "The Bases of Accommodation" published in the journal Foreign Affairs, which described a strategy of carpet-bombing and defoliating the rural villages and jungles of Vietnam, so that peasants there would be...

, destroying the ability of peasants to support themselves in the countryside, and forcing them to flee to the U.S. dominated cities, thus depriving the guerrillas of their rural support base and food supply.

The US began to target food crops in October 1962, primarily using Agent Blue
Agent Blue
Agent Blue is one of the "rainbow herbicides" that is known for its use by the United States during the Vietnam War. It was sprayed on rice paddies and other crops in an attempt to deprive the Viet Cong of valuable crops. Agent Blue is a mixture of two arsenic-containing compounds, sodium...

. In 1965, 42 percent of all herbicide spraying was dedicated to food crops. Rural-to-urban migration rates dramatically increased in South Vietnam, as peasants escaped the destruction and famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 in the countryside by fleeing to the U.S.-dominated cities. The urban population in South Vietnam nearly tripled: from 2.8 million people in 1958, to 8 million by 1971. The rapid flow of people led to a fast-paced and uncontrolled urbanization
Urbanization
Urbanization, urbanisation or urban drift is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008....

; an estimated 1.5 million people were living in Saigon slums, while many South Vietnamese elites and U.S. personnel lived in luxury.

United States Air Force records show that at least 6,542 spraying missions took place over the course of Operation Ranch Hand. By 1971, 12 percent of the total area of South Vietnam had been sprayed with defoliating chemicals, at an average concentration of 13 times the recommended USDA application rate for domestic use. In South Vietnam alone, an estimated 10 million hectares of agricultural land were ultimately destroyed. In some areas TCDD concentrations in soil and water were hundreds of times greater than the levels considered "safe" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Overall, more than 20% of South Vietnam's forests were sprayed at least once over a nine year period.

Chemical description and toxicology




Chemically, Agent Orange is an approximately 1:1 mixture of two phenoxyl herbicides – 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid
2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid
2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid is a common systemic pesticide/herbicide used in the control of broadleaf weeds. It is the most widely used herbicide in the world, and the third most commonly used in North America...

 (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid
2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid
2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid , a synthetic auxin, is a chlorophenoxy acetic acid herbicide used to defoliate broad-leafed plants. It was developed in the late 1940s and was widely used in the agricultural industry until being phased out, starting in the late 1970s due to toxicity concerns....

 (2,4,5-T) – in iso-octyl ester
Ester
Esters are chemical compounds derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH group is replaced by an -O-alkyl group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and...

 form.

Numerous studies have examined health effects linked to Agent Orange, its component compounds, and its manufacturing byproducts.

Prior to the controversy surrounding Agent Orange, there was already a large body of scientific evidence linking 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D to serious negative health effects and ecological damage. But in 1969, it was revealed to the public that the 2,4,5-T was contaminated with a dioxin, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD), and that the TCDD was causing many of the previously unexplained adverse health effects which were correlated with Agent Orange exposure. TCDD has been described as "perhaps the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man". Internal memoranda revealed Monsanto Corporation (a manufacturer of 2,4,5-T) had informed the U.S. government as early as 1952 that 2,4,5-T was contaminated with a toxic contaminant. In the manufacture of 2,4,5-T, accidental overheating of the reaction mixture easily causes the product to condense into the toxic self-condensation product TCDD. At the time, precautions were not taken against this unintended side reaction, which caused also the Seveso disaster
Seveso disaster
The Seveso disaster was an industrial accident that occurred around 12:37 pm July 10, 1976, in a small chemical manufacturing plant approximately north of Milan in the Lombardy region in Italy...

 in Italy in 1976. In addition to this, 2,4,5-T is hazardous in its own right.

In 1979, the Yale biologist
Biologist
A biologist is a scientist devoted to and producing results in biology through the study of life. Typically biologists study organisms and their relationship to their environment. Biologists involved in basic research attempt to discover underlying mechanisms that govern how organisms work...

 Arthur Galston, who specialized in herbicide research, published a review of what was known at the time about the toxicity of TCDD. Even "vanishingly small" quantities of dioxin in the diet caused adverse health effects when tested on animals. Since then, TCDD has been comprehensively studied. It has been associated with increased neoplasms in every animal bioassay
Bioassay
Bioassay , or biological standardization is a type of scientific experiment. Bioassays are typically conducted to measure the effects of a substance on a living organism and are essential in the development of new drugs and in monitoring environmental pollutants...

 reported in the scientific literature. The National Toxicology Program has classified TCDD as "known to be a human carcinogen
Carcinogen
A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This may be due to the ability to damage the genome or to the disruption of cellular metabolic processes...

", frequently associated with soft-tissue sarcoma
Soft tissue sarcoma
A soft-tissue sarcoma is a form of sarcoma that develops in connective tissue, though the term is sometimes applied to elements of the soft tissue that are not currently considered connective tissue.-Risk factors:...

, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's lymphoma
Hodgkin's lymphoma
Hodgkin's lymphoma, previously known as Hodgkin's disease, is a type of lymphoma, which is a cancer originating from white blood cells called lymphocytes...

 and chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia , also known as chronic lymphoid leukemia , is the most common type of leukemia. Leukemias are cancers of the white blood cells . CLL affects B cell lymphocytes. B cells originate in the bone marrow, develop in the lymph nodes, and normally fight infection by...

 (CLL).

While the two herbicides that make up Agent Orange, 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, remain toxic over a short period—a scale of days or weeks—they quickly degrade. A 1969 report authored by K. Diane Courtney and others found 2,4,5-T could cause birth defects and stillbirths in mice. Several studies have shown an increased rate of cancer mortality for workers exposed to 2,4,5-T. In one such study, from Hamburg, Germany, the risk of cancer mortality increased by 170% after working for 10 years at the 2,4,5-T-producing section of a Hamburg manufacturing plant. Three studies have suggested prior exposure to Agent Orange poses an increased risk of acute myelogenous leukemia in the children of Vietnam veterans.

Starting in 1991, the US Congress asked the Institute of Medicine
Institute of Medicine
The Institute of Medicine is a not-for-profit, non-governmental American organization founded in 1970, under the congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences...

 to review the scientific literature on Agent Orange and the other herbicides used in Vietnam, including their active ingredients and the dioxin contaminant. The IOM found an association between dioxin exposure and diabetes.

Early development


In 1943 plant biologist Arthur Galston
Arthur Galston
Arthur W. Galston was an American botanist and bioethicist who, as a graduate student at the University of Illinois, discovered the defoliant properties of a chemical that was subsequently studied and utilized by the United States Army. His research and 1943 Ph.D. dissertation were focused on...

 began studying the compound triiodobenzoic acid as a plant growth hormone, in an attempt to adapt soybean
Soybean
The soybean or soya bean is a species of legume native to East Asia, widely grown for its edible bean which has numerous uses...

s to a short growing season. Galston found that excessive usage of the compound caused catastrophic defoliation — a finding later used by his colleague Ian Sussex to develop the family of herbicides used in Operation Ranch Hand. Galston was especially concerned about the compound's side effects to humans and the environment.

In 1943, the U.S. Department of the Army contracted the University of Chicago to study the effects of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T on cereal grains (including rice) and broadleaf crops. From these studies arose the concept of using aerial applications of herbicides to destroy enemy crops to disrupt their food supply. In early 1945, the U.S. army ran tests of various 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T mixtures at the Bushnell Army Airfield
Bushnell Army Airfield
Bushnell Army Airfield is a former World War II United States Army Air Force airfield located northeast of the intersection of Route 301 & Walker Avenue, one mile northeast of the town of Bushnell, Florida.-History:...

 in Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, which is now listed as a Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS).

Use in the Vietnam War


During the Vietnam War, between 1962 and 1971, the United States military sprayed nearly 20000000 gallons (75,708,240 l) of chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of the aerial defoliation program known as Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand
Operation Ranch Hand was a U.S. Military operation during the Vietnam War, lasting from 1962 until 1971. It was part of the overall herbicidal warfare program during the war called "Operation Trail Dust"...

. The goal was to defoliate rural/forested land, depriving guerrillas of food and cover and clearing in sensitive areas such as around base perimeters. The program was also a part of a general policy of forced draft urbanization
Forced draft urbanization
Forced draft urbanization was a policy elaborated by Samuel P. Huntington in a 1968 article "The Bases of Accommodation" published in the journal Foreign Affairs, which described a strategy of carpet-bombing and defoliating the rural villages and jungles of Vietnam, so that peasants there would be...

, which aimed to destroy the ability of peasants to support themselves in the countryside, forcing them to flee to the U.S. dominated cities, depriving the guerrillas of their rural support base.
Spraying was usually done either from helicopters or from low-flying C-123 Provider
C-123 Provider
The C-123 Provider was an American military transport aircraft designed by Chase Aircraft and subsequently built by Fairchild Aircraft for the United States Air Force...

 aircraft, fitted with sprayers and "MC-1 Hourglass" pump systems and 1000 US gal (3,785.4 l) chemical tanks. Spray runs were also conducted from trucks, boats, and backpack sprayers.

The first batch of herbicides was unloaded at Tan Son Nhut Air base
Tan Son Nhut Air Base
Tan Son Nhut Air Base was a Republic of Vietnam Air Force facility. It is located near the city of Saigon in southern Vietnam. The United States used it as a major base during the Vietnam War , stationing Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine units there...

 in South Vietnam, on January 9, 1962. Air Force records show at least 6,542 spraying missions took place over the course of Operation Ranch Hand. By 1971, 12 percent of the total area of South Vietnam had been sprayed with defoliating chemicals, at an average concentration of 13 times the recommended USDA application rate for domestic use. In South Vietnam alone, an estimated 10 million hectares of agricultural land were ultimately destroyed. In some areas, TCDD concentrations in soil and water were hundreds of times greater than the levels considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The campaign destroyed 5 million acres (20,234.3 km²) of upland and mangrove forests and millions of acres of crops. Overall, more than 20% of South Vietnam's forests were sprayed at least once over a nine year period.

In 1965, members of the U.S. Congress were told "crop destruction is understood to be the more important purpose ... but the emphasis is usually given to the jungle defoliation in public mention of the program." Soldiers were told they were destroying crops because they were going to be used to feed guerrillas. They later discovered nearly all of the food they had been destroying was not being produced for guerrillas; it was, in reality, only being grown to support the local civilian population. For example, in Quang Ngai province, 85% of the crop lands were scheduled to be destroyed in 1970 alone. Widespread famine occurred as a result, leaving hundreds of thousands of people malnourished or starving.

The U.S. military began targeting food crops in October 1962, primarily using Agent Blue
Agent Blue
Agent Blue is one of the "rainbow herbicides" that is known for its use by the United States during the Vietnam War. It was sprayed on rice paddies and other crops in an attempt to deprive the Viet Cong of valuable crops. Agent Blue is a mixture of two arsenic-containing compounds, sodium...

; the American public was not made aware of the crop destruction programs until 1965 (and it was then believed that crop spraying had begun that spring). In 1965, 42 percent of all herbicide spraying was dedicated to food crops. The first official acknowledgement of the programs came from the State Department in March 1966.

Many experts at the time, including Arthur Galston, the biologist who developed and intensively studied TCDD, opposed herbicidal warfare, due to concerns about the side effects to humans and the environment by indiscriminately spraying the chemical over a wide area. As early as 1966, resolutions were introduced to the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 charging that the U.S. was violating the 1925 Geneva Protocol
Geneva Protocol
The Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, usually called the Geneva Protocol, is a treaty prohibiting the first use of chemical and biological weapons. It was signed at Geneva on June 17, 1925 and entered...

, which regulated the use of chemical and biological weapons.

Health effects


The Vietnam Red Cross reported as many as 3 million Vietnamese people have been affected by Agent Orange, including at least 150,000 children born with birth defects. According to Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 people being killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.

Children in the areas where Agent Orange was used have been affected and have multiple health problems, including cleft palate, mental disabilities, hernias, and extra fingers and toes
Polydactyly
Polydactyly or polydactylism , also known as hyperdactyly, is a congenital physical anomaly in humans, dogs, and cats having supernumerary fingers or toes....

. In the 1970s, high levels of dioxin were found in the breast milk
Breast milk
Breast milk, more specifically human milk, is the milk produced by the breasts of a human female for her infant offspring...

 of South Vietnamese women, and in the blood of U.S. soldiers who had served in Vietnam. The most affected zones are the mountainous area along Truong Son (Long Mountains) and the border between Vietnam and Cambodia. The affected residents are living in substandard conditions with many genetic diseases.
About 28 of the former US military bases in Vietnam where the herbicides were stored and loaded onto airplanes may still have high level of dioxins in the soil, posing a health threat to the surrounding communities. Extensive testing for dioxin contamination has been conducted at the former US airbases in Da Nang, Phu Cat and Bien Hoa. Some of the soil and sediment on the bases have extremely high levels of dioxin requiring remediation. The Da Nang Airbase has dioxin contamination up to 350 times higher than international recommendations for action. The contaminated soil and sediment continue to affect the citizens of Vietnam, poisoning their food chain and causing illnesses, serious skin diseases and a variety of cancers in the lungs, larynx, and prostate.

Ecological effects


About 17.8% (3,100,000 ha) of the total forested area of Vietnam was sprayed during the war, which dramatically disrupted ecological equilibrium. Furthermore, the persistent nature of dioxins, erosion caused by loss of protective tree cover, and loss of seeding forest stock, meant reforestation was difficult or impossible in many areas. Many defoliated forest areas were quickly invaded by aggressive pioneer species, such as bamboo
Bamboo
Bamboo is a group of perennial evergreens in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. Giant bamboos are the largest members of the grass family....

 and cogon grass
Cogon grass
Imperata cylindrica, commonly known as blady grass, cogon grass , kunai grass , or Japanese bloodgrass, is a species of grass in the genus Imperata...

, which make it unlikely the forests will be able to regenerate. Animal species diversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 was also significantly impacted: in one study, a Harvard biologist found 24 species of birds and 5 species of mammals in a sprayed forest, while in two adjacent sections of unsprayed forest there were 145 and 170 species of birds and 30 and 55 species of mammals.

Dioxins from Agent Orange have persisted in the Vietnamese environment since the war, settling in the soil and sediment and entering into food chain through the animals and fish that feed in the contaminated areas. Movement of dioxins through the food web
Food web
A food web depicts feeding connections in an ecological community. Ecologists can broadly lump all life forms into one of two categories called trophic levels: 1) the autotrophs, and 2) the heterotrophs...

 has resulted in bioconcentration and biomagnification
Biomagnification
Biomagnification, also known as bioamplification or biological magnification, is the increase in concentration of a substance that occurs in a food chain as a consequence of:* Persistence...

. The areas most heavily contaminated with dioxins are the sites of former U.S. air bases.

Sociopolitical effects


The RAND Corporation's Memorandum 5446-ISA/ARPA states: "the fact that the VC obtain most of their food from the neutral rural population dictates the destruction of civilian crops ... if they (the VC) are to be hampered by the crop destruction program, it will be necessary to destroy large portions of the rural economy – probably 50% or more".

Rural-to-urban migration rates dramatically increased in South Vietnam, as peasants escaped the destruction in the countryside by fleeing to the U.S.-dominated cities. The urban population in South Vietnam more than tripled: from 2.8 million people in 1958, to 8 million by 1971. The rapid flow of people led to a fast-paced and uncontrolled urbanization; an estimated 1.5 million people were living in Saigon slums, while many South Vietnamese elites and U.S. personnel lived in luxury.

Effects on U.S. veterans


Studies showed that veterans who served in the South during the war have increased rates of cancer, and nerve, digestive, skin and respiratory disorders. Veterans from the south had higher rates of throat cancer, acute/chronic leukemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostate cancer, lung cancer, soft tissue sarcoma and liver cancer. Other than liver cancer, these are the same conditions the US Veteran's Administration has found to be associated with exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin, and are on the list of conditions eligible for compensation and treatment.

Military personnel who loaded airplanes and helicopters used in Ranch Hand probably sustained some of the heaviest exposures. Members of the Army Chemical Corps, who stored and mixed herbicides and defoliated the perimeters of military bases, are also thought to have had some of the heaviest exposures. Others with potentially heavy exposures included members of U.S. Army Special Forces units who defoliated remote campsites, and members of U.S. Navy river units who cleared base perimeters. Military members who served on Okinawa also claim to have been exposed to the chemical.

While in Vietnam, the veterans were told not to worry, and were persuaded the chemical was harmless. After returning home, Vietnam veterans began to suspect their ill health or the instances of their wives having miscarriages or children born with birth defects might be related to Agent Orange and the other toxic herbicides to which they were exposed in Vietnam. Veterans began to file claims in 1977 to the Department of Veterans Affairs for disability payments for health care for conditions they believed were associated with exposure to Agent Orange, or more specifically, dioxin, but their claims were denied unless they could prove the condition began when they were in the service or within one year of their discharge.

By April 1993, the Department of Veterans Affairs had only compensated 486 victims, although it had received disability claims from 39,419 soldiers who had been exposed to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.

US veterans class action lawsuit against manufacturers


Since at least 1978, several lawsuits have been filed against the companies which produced Agent Orange, among them Dow Chemical
Dow Chemical Company
The Dow Chemical Company is a multinational corporation headquartered in Midland, Michigan, United States. As of 2007, it is the second largest chemical manufacturer in the world by revenue and as of February 2009, the third-largest chemical company in the world by market capitalization .Dow...

, Monsanto, and Diamond Shamrock.

Hy Mayerson of the law firm The Mayerson Law Offices, P.C.
The Mayerson Law Offices, P.C.
The Mayerson Law Offices, P.C. is a regional U.S. law firm based in Spring City, East Vincent Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania...

 was an early pioneer in Agent Orange litigation, working with renowned environmental attorney
Environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

 Victor Yannacone
Victor Yannacone
Victor Yannacone is a controversial, pioneering environmental attorney, who played leading roles in successful campaigns to ban DDT in the U.S. and expose the effects of Agent Orange on Vietnam vets.-DDT:...

 in 1980 on the first class-action suits against wartime manufacturers of Agent Orange. In meeting Dr. Ronald A. Codario, one of the first civilian doctors to see afflicted patients, Mayerson, so impressed by the fact an M.D. would show so much interest in a Vietnam veteran, forwarded more than a thousand pages of information on Agent Orange and the effects of dioxin on animals and humans to Codario's office the day after he was first contacted by the doctor. The corporate defendants sought to escape culpability by blaming everything on the U.S. government.

The Mayerson Law Offices, P.C., with Sgt. Charles E. Hartz as their principal client, filed the first Agent Orange class action lawsuit, in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 in 1980, for the injuries soldiers in Vietnam suffered through exposure to toxic dioxins in the Agent Orange defoliant
Defoliant
A defoliant is any chemical sprayed or dusted on plants to cause its leaves to fall off. A classic example of a highly toxic defoliant is Agent Orange, which the United States armed forces used abundantly to defoliate regions of Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1970.Defoliants differ...

. Attorney Hy Mayerson co-wrote the brief that certified the Agent Orange Product Liability action as a class action
Class action
In law, a class action, a class suit, or a representative action is a form of lawsuit in which a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court and/or in which a class of defendants is being sued...

, the largest ever filed as of its filing. Hartz's deposition
Deposition (law)
In the law of the United States, a deposition is the out-of-court oral testimony of a witness that is reduced to writing for later use in court or for discovery purposes. It is commonly used in litigation in the United States and Canada and is almost always conducted outside of court by the...

 was one of the first ever taken in America, and the first for an Agent Orange trial, for the purpose of preserving testimony
Testimony
In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. All testimonies should be well thought out and truthful. It was the custom in Ancient Rome for the men to place their right hand on a Bible when taking an oath...

 at trial, as it was understood that Hartz would not live to see the trial because of the brain tumor
Brain tumor
A brain tumor is an intracranial solid neoplasm, a tumor within the brain or the central spinal canal.Brain tumors include all tumors inside the cranium or in the central spinal canal...

 that began to develop while he was a member of Tiger Force
Tiger Force
Tiger Force was a task force of the United States Army, 1st Battalion , 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade , 101st Airborne Division, which fought in the Vietnam War....

, Special Forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

, and LRRPs in Vietnam. The firm also located and supplied critical research to the Veterans’ lead expert, Dr. Ronald A. Codario, M.D., including about 100 hundred articles from toxicology journals dating back more than a decade, as well as data about where herbicides had been sprayed, what the effects of dioxin had been on animals and humans, and every accident in factories where herbicides were produced or dioxin was a contaminant of some chemical reaction.

In 1984, the class-action suit was settled out of court for $180 million; slightly over 45% of this was ordered to be paid by Monsanto alone. Many veterans who were victims of Agent Orange exposure were outraged the case had been settled instead of going to court, and felt they had been betrayed by the lawyers. "Fairness Hearings" were held in five major American cities, where veterans and their families discussed their reactions to the settlement, and condemned the actions of the lawyers and courts, demanding the case be heard before a jury of their peers. Federal Judge Julius Weinstein refused the appeals, claiming the settlement was "fair and just". By 1989, the veterans' fears were confirmed when it was decided how the money from the settlement would be paid out. A totally disabled Vietnam veteran would receive a maximum of $12,000 spread out over the course of 10 years. Furthermore, by accepting the settlement payments, disabled veterans would become ineligible for many state benefits that provided far more monetary support than the settlement, such as food stamps, public assistance, and government pensions. A widow of a Vietnam veteran who died of Agent Orange exposure would only receive $3700.

In 2004, Jill Montgomery, a spokesperson for Monsanto, said Monsanto should not be liable at all for injuries or deaths caused by Agent Orange, saying: "We are sympathetic with people who believe they have been injured and understand their concern to find the cause, but reliable scientific evidence indicates that Agent Orange is not the cause of serious long-term health effects."

New Jersey Agent Orange Commission


In 1980, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 created the New Jersey Agent Orange Commission, the first state commission created to study its effects. The commission's research project in association with Rutgers University
Rutgers University
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey , is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, United States. It was originally chartered as Queen's College in 1766. It is the eighth-oldest college in the United States and one of the nine Colonial colleges founded before the American...

 was called "The Pointman Project". It was disbanded by Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Christine Todd Whitman
Christine Todd "Christie" Whitman is an American Republican politician and author who served as the 50th Governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001, and was the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the administration of President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. She was New...

 in 1996.

During Pointman I, commission researchers devised ways to determine small dioxin levels in blood. Prior to this, such levels could only be found in the adipose (fat) tissue
Adipose tissue
In histology, adipose tissue or body fat or fat depot or just fat is loose connective tissue composed of adipocytes. It is technically composed of roughly only 80% fat; fat in its solitary state exists in the liver and muscles. Adipose tissue is derived from lipoblasts...

. The project compared dioxin levels in a small group of Vietnam veterans who had been exposed to Agent Orange with a group of matched veterans who had not served in Vietnam. The results of this project were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1988.

The second phase of the project continued to examine and compare dioxin levels in various groups of Vietnam veterans, including Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

, Marines
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 and brown water riverboat Navy personnel.

US Congress


In 1991, the US Congress enacted the Agent Orange Act, giving the Department of Veterans Affairs
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense...

 the authority to declare certain conditions 'presumptive' to exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin, making these veterans who served in Vietnam eligible to receive treatment and compensation for these conditions. The same law required the National Academy of Sciences to periodically review the science on dioxin and herbicides used in Vietnam to inform the Secretary of Veterans Affairs about the strength of the scientific evidence showing association between exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin and certain conditions.

Through this process, the list of 'presumptive' conditions has grown since 1991, and currently the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has listed prostate cancer, respiratory cancers, multiple myeloma, type II diabetes, Hodgkin's disease, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, chloracne
Chloracne
Chloracne is an acne-like eruption of blackheads, cysts, and pustules associated with over-exposure to certain halogenated aromatic compounds, such as chlorinated dioxins and dibenzofurans...

, porphyria cutanea tarda, peripheral neuropathy, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and spina bifida in children of veterans exposed to Agent Orange as conditions associated with exposure to the herbicide. This list now includes B cell leukemias, such as hairy cell leukemia, Parkinson's disease and ischemic heart disease, these last three having been added on August 31, 2010. Several highly placed individuals in government are voicing concerns about whether some of the diseases on the list should, in fact, actually have been included.

U.S./Vietnamese government negotiations


In 2002, Vietnam and the US held a joint conference on Human Health and Environmental Impacts of Agent Orange. Following the conference, the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is a part of the National Institutes of Health , which is in turn a part of the Department of Health and Human Services ....

 (NIEHS) began scientific exchanges between the US and Vietnam, and began discussions for a joint research project on the human health impacts of Agent Orange.

These negotiations broke down in 2005, when neither side could agree on the research protocol and the research project was cancelled. More progress has been made on the environmental front. In 2005, the first US-Vietnam workshop on remediation of dioxin was held.

Starting in 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency‎
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

 (EPA) began to work with the Vietnamese government to measure the level of dioxin at the Da Nang Airbase. Also in 2005, the Joint Advisory Committee on Agent Orange, made up of representatives of Vietnamese and US government agencies, was established. The committee has been meeting yearly to explore areas of scientific cooperation, technical assistance and environmental remediation of dioxin.

A breakthrough in the diplomatic stalemate on this issue occurred as a result of United States President George W. Bush's state visit to Vietnam in November 2006. In the joint statement, President Bush and President Triet agreed "further joint efforts to address the environmental contamination near former dioxin storage sites would make a valuable contribution to the continued development of their bilateral relationship."

In late May 2007, President Bush signed into law a supplemental spending bill for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan that included an earmark of $3 million specifically for funding for programs for the remediation of dioxin 'hotspots' on former US military bases, and for public health programs for the surrounding communities; some authors consider this to be completely inadequate, pointing out that the U.S. airbase in Da Nang
Da Nang
Đà Nẵng , occasionally Danang, is a major port city in the South Central Coast of Vietnam, on the coast of the South China Sea at the mouth of the Han River. It is the commercial and educational center of Central Vietnam; its well-sheltered, easily accessible port and its location on the path of...

, alone, will cost $14 million to clean up, and that three others are estimated to require $60 million for cleanup. The appropriation was renewed in the fiscal year 2009 and again in FY 2010. An additional $12 million was appropriated in the fiscal year 2010 in the Supplemental Appropriations Act and a total of $18.5 million appropriated for fiscal year 2011.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated during a visit to Hanoi in October 2010 that the US government would begin work on the clean-up of dioxin contamination at the Da Nang airbase.

In June 2011 a ceremony was held at Da Nang airport to mark the start of US-funded decontamination of dioxin hotspots in Vietnam. $32m has so far been allocated by the US congress to fund the program.

Vietnamese victims class action lawsuit in U.S. courts


On January 31, 2004, a victim's rights group, the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (VAVA), filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York is the federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises the entirety of Long Island and Staten Island...

 in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, against several U.S. companies for liability in causing personal injury, by developing and producing the chemical. Dow Chemical and Monsanto were the two largest producers of Agent Orange for the U.S. military, and were named in the suit, along with the dozens of other companies (Diamond Shamrock, Uniroyal, Thompson Chemicals, Hercules, etc.). On March 10, 2005, Judge Jack B. Weinstein
Jack B. Weinstein
Jack Bertrand Weinstein is a United States federal judge in the Eastern District of New York. Judge Weinstein was appointed in 1967 by President Lyndon Johnson. From 1980 to 1988, he served as chief judge of the district. On March 1, 1993, he took senior status; however, unlike some senior...

 of the Eastern District – who had presided over the 1984 US veterans class action lawsuit – dismissed the lawsuit, ruling there was no legal basis for the plaintiffs'
Plaintiff
A plaintiff , also known as a claimant or complainant, is the term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit before a court...

 claims. He concluded Agent Orange was not considered a poison under international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 at the time of its use by the U.S.; the U.S. was not prohibited from using it as a herbicide; and the companies which produced the substance were not liable for the method of its use by the government. The U.S. government was not a party in the lawsuit, due to sovereign immunity
Sovereign immunity
Sovereign immunity, or crown immunity, is a legal doctrine by which the sovereign or state cannot commit a legal wrong and is immune from civil suit or criminal prosecution....

, and the court ruled the chemical companies, as contractors of the US government, shared the same immunity. The case was appealed and heard by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on June 18, 2007. The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of the case, stating the herbicides used during the war were not intended to be used to poison humans and therefore did not violate international law. The US Supreme Court declined to consider the case.

Three judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan heard the appeal on June 18, 2007. They upheld Weinstein's ruling to dismiss the case. They ruled that, though the herbicides contained a dioxin (a known poison), they were not intended to be used as a poison on humans. Therefore, they were not considered a chemical weapon and thus not a violation of international law. A further review of the case by the whole panel of judges of the Court of Appeals also confirmed this decision. The lawyers for the Vietnamese filed a petition to the US Supreme Court to hear the case. On March 2, 2009, the Supreme Court denied certiorari
Certiorari
Certiorari is a type of writ seeking judicial review, recognized in U.S., Roman, English, Philippine, and other law. Certiorari is the present passive infinitive of the Latin certiorare...

 and refused to reconsider the ruling of the Court of Appeals.

In a November 2004 Zogby International
Zogby International
IBOPE Zogby International is an international market research, opinion polling firm founded in 1984 by John Zogby. The company polls and consults for a wide spectrum of business media, government, and political groups, and conducts public opinion research in more than 70 countries...

 poll of 987 people, 79% of respondents thought the US chemical companies which produced Agent Orange defoliant should compensate US soldiers who were affected by the toxic chemical used during the war in Vietnam. 51% said they supported compensation for Vietnamese Agent Orange victims.

Help for those affected in Vietnam


To assist those who have been affected by Agent Orange/dioxin, the Vietnamese have established "peace villages", which each host between 50 and 100 victims, giving them medical and psychological help. As of 2006, there were 11 such villages, thus granting some social protection to fewer than a thousand victims. U.S. veterans of the war in Vietnam and individuals who are aware and sympathetic to the impacts of Agent Orange have supported these programs in Vietnam. An international group of veterans from the U.S. and its allies during the Vietnam War working with their former enemy — veterans from the Vietnam Veterans Association — established the Vietnam Friendship Village outside of Hanoi
Hanoi
Hanoi , is the capital of Vietnam and the country's second largest city. Its population in 2009 was estimated at 2.6 million for urban districts, 6.5 million for the metropolitan jurisdiction. From 1010 until 1802, it was the most important political centre of Vietnam...

.

The center provides medical care, rehabilitation and vocational training for children and veterans from Vietnam who have been affected by Agent Orange. In 1998, The Vietnam Red Cross established the Vietnam Agent Orange Victims Fund to provide direct assistance to families throughout Vietnam that have been affected. In 2003, the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) was formed. In addition to filing the lawsuit against the chemical companies, VAVA provides medical care, rehabilitation services and financial assistance to those injured by Agent Orange.

The Vietnamese government provides small monthly stipends to more than 200,000 Vietnamese believed affected by the herbicides; this totaled $40.8 million in 2008 alone. The Vietnam Red Cross has raised more than $22 million to assist the ill or disabled, and several U.S. foundations, United Nations agencies, European governments and nongovernmental organizations have given a total of about $23 million for site cleanup, reforestation, health care and other services to those in need.

Vuong Mo of the Vietnam News Agency described one of centers:
"May is 13, but she knows nothing, is unable to talk fluently, nor walk with ease due to for her bandy legs. Her father is dead and she has four elder brothers, all mentally retarded ... The students are all disabled, retarded and of different ages. Teaching them is a hard job. They are of the 3rd grade but many of them find it hard to do the reading. Only a few of them can. Their pronunciation is distorted due to their twisted lips and their memory is quite short. They easily forget what they've learned ... In the Village, it is quite hard to tell the kids' exact ages. Some in their twenties have a physical statures as small as the 7- or 8-years-old. They find it difficult to feed themselves, much less have mental ability or physical capacity for work. No one can hold back the tears when seeing the heads turning round unconsciously, the bandy arms managing to push the spoon of food into the mouths with awful difficulty ... Yet they still keep smiling, singing in their great innocence, at the presence of some visitors, craving for something beautiful."


On June 16, 2010, members of the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin
The U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin
The U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin was formally established in February 2007 as an initiative of prominent private citizens, scientists and policy-makers on both the Vietnamese and US sides, working on issues that the two countries’ governments have found difficult to address....

 unveiled a comprehensive 10-year Declaration and Plan of Action to address the toxic legacy of Agent Orange and other herbicides in Vietnam. The Plan of Action was released as an Aspen Institute publication and calls upon the U.S. and Vietnamese governments to join with other governments, foundations, businesses, and nonprofits in a partnership to clean up dioxin "hot spots" in Vietnam and to expand humanitarian services for people with disabilities there. On September 16, 2010, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) acknowledged the work of the Dialogue Group by releasing a statement on the floor of the United States Senate. The statement urges the U.S. government to take the Plan of Action's recommendations into account in developing a multi-year plan of activities to address the Agent Orange/dioxin legacy.

Use outside Vietnam


While 'Agent Orange' was only used between 1965 and 1970, 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T and other herbicides were used by the US military from the late 1940s through the 1970s.

United States


In 1978, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suspended spraying of Agent Orange in National Forests, due to a threefold increase in miscarriages in women living near forests that had been sprayed.

A December 2006 Department of Defense report listed Agent Orange testing, storage, and disposal sites at 32 locations throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Korea, and in the Pacific Ocean. The Veteran Administration has also acknowledged that Agent Orange was used domestically by U.S. forces in test sites throughout the US. Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida in Okaloosa County....

 in Florida was one of the primary testing sites throughout the 1960s.

Korea


Agent Orange was used in Korea in the late 1960s. Republic of Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 troops were the only personnel involved in the spraying, which occurred along the Korean Demilitarized Zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

 (DMZ). "Citing declassified U.S. Department of Defense documents, Korean officials fear thousands of its soldiers may have come into contact with the deadly defoliant in the late 1960s and early 1970s. According to one top government official, as many as '30,000 Korean veterans are suffering from illness related to their exposure'. The exact number of GIs who may have been exposed is unknown. But C. David Benbow, a North Carolina attorney who served as a sergeant with Co. C, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment
23rd Infantry Regiment (United States)
The 23rd Infantry Regiment is an infantry regiment in the United States Army originally formed on June 26th 1812. The 23rd saw action in 14 battles during the War of 1812...

, 2nd Infantry Division, along the DMZ in 1968–69, estimates as many as '4,000 soldiers at any given time' could have been affected.".

In 1999, about 20,000 South Koreans filed two separated lawsuits against U.S. companies, seeking more than $5 billion in damages. After losing a decision in 2002, they filed an appeal.

In January 2006, the South Korean Appeals Court ordered Dow Chemical and Monsanto to pay $62 million in compensation to about 6,800 people. The ruling acknowledged that "the defendant
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

s failed to ensure safety as the defoliants manufactured by the defendants had higher levels of dioxins than standard", and, quoting the U.S. National Academy of Science report, declared that there was a "causal relationship" between Agent Orange and 11 diseases, including cancers of the lung, larynx and prostate. The judges failed to acknowledge "the relationship between the chemical and peripheral neuropathy, the disease most widespread among Agent Orange victims" according to the Mercury News.

The United States local press KPHO-TV in Phoenix, Arizona alleged that the United States Army has buried Agent Orange in Camp Carroll
Camp Carroll, South Korea
Camp Carroll is located on the south east portion of South Korea, in Waegwan, close to the city of Daegu. It is named after Sergeant First Class Charles F. Carroll, a posthumous recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross for his acts of heroism during the Korean War.Camp Carroll is located at the...

, the U.S. Army base located in Gyeongsangbuk-do, Korea. It is based on the claim of three U.S. Army veterans. They claimed approximately 250 55 gallon drums of Agent Orange were buried at Camp Carroll in 1978, which was indicated as 'Chemicals type Agent Orange' or 'Province of Vietnam, Compound Orange' with stripe around the barrel dated 1967 for the Republic of Vietnam. The South Korean Ministry of Environment announced that they will request cooperative investigation at Camp Carroll officially. The USFK issued a statement that confirmed that barrels were buried there, but all (plus an additional 60 tons of soil) were removed in 1996.

Currently, Veterans who spent even a single day, or even a few hours, in Vietnam, [as must be established by their military records], and can medically establish that anytime after this 'presumptive exposure' they developed nerve damage, diabetes, or a long list of other medical conditions will receive an 'automatic' VA settlement with a substantial amount of money each month. However, the V.A. fights every similar claim by a Korean Vet. They require added tests: first, that they not only establish they were assigned to S.Korea, [usually this can fairly easily be done, but, not always], for 'some significant time' in the period of clandestine use, 1968-69-70; second, that they were regularly stationed on, or near, the DMZ [This can be almost impossible to prove, as many of the official records only reflect a 'unit' assignment. These orders were often vague, or incomplete, and reflected only a unit assignment of a military organization that might be spread out all over the Korean peninsula. Many have been lost, misplaced, destroyed, or accidentally destroyed in a warehouse fire that destroyed a many old Army records. Most the units where either disbanded, moved, or renamed after the Vietnam Era ended, thus adding to the confusion.]; and lastly, a written opinion by doctor of diagnosis [all that is required of Vietnam Vets], but stating further that disease, or condition, arrises from Agent Orange, and not the other toxic herbasides/chemicals that all Vets are rutinely exposed to.

Canadian Forces Base Gagetown (New Brunswick, Canada)


The U.S. military, with the permission of the Canadian government, tested herbicides, including Agent Orange, in the forests near the Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick in 1966 and 1967. On September 12, 2007, Greg Thompson
Greg Thompson
Gregory Francis Thompson, PC, MP is a Canadian politician who served six terms as an MP.Thompson, a businessman and financial planner was first elected into the Canadian House of Commons in the Canadian federal election, 1988 as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada...

, Minister of Veterans Affairs, announced that the government of Canada
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

 was offering a one-time ex gratia
Ex gratia
Ex gratia is Latin for "by favour", and is most often used in a legal context. When something has been done ex gratia, it has been done voluntarily, out of kindness or grace...

 payment of $20,000 as the compensation package for Agent Orange exposure at CFB Gagetown.

On July 12, 2005, Merchant Law Group LLP on behalf of over 1,100 Canadian veterans and civilians who were living in and around the CFB Gagetown filed a lawsuit to pursue class action
Class action
In law, a class action, a class suit, or a representative action is a form of lawsuit in which a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court and/or in which a class of defendants is being sued...

 litigation concerning Agent Orange and Agent Purple with the Federal Court of Canada
Federal Court of Canada
The Federal Court of Canada was a national court of Canada that heard some types of disputes arising under the central government's legislative jurisdiction...

.

On August 4, 2009, the case was rejected by the court due to lack of evidence. The ruling was appealed.

Queensland, Australia


In 2008 Australian researcher Jean Williams claimed that cancer rates in the town of Innisfail, Queensland were 10 times higher than the state average due to secret testing of Agent Orange by the Australian military scientists during the Vietnam War. Williams, who had won the Order of Australia medal for her research on the effects of chemicals on U.S. war veterans, based her allegations on Australian government reports found in the Australian War Memorial museum archives. A former soldier, Ted Bosworth, backed up the claims, saying that he had been involved in the secret testing. The Queensland health department claimed that cancer rates in Innisfail were not higher than those in other parts of the state.

New Zealand


The use of Agent Orange has been controversial in New Zealand, because of exposure of New Zealand troops to it and because of the production of Agent Orange for Vietnam and other users at a Ivon Watkins-Dow chemical plant in Paritutu, New Plymouth
New Plymouth
New Plymouth is the major city of the Taranaki Region on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It is named after Plymouth, Devon, England, from where the first English settlers migrated....

. There have been continuing claims that the suburb of Paritutu has also been polluted; see New Zealand in the Vietnam War.
There are many cases of New Zealand soldiers developing cancers such as bone cancer from exposure to Agent Orange.

Brazil


The Brazilian government used Agent Orange to defoliate a large section of the Amazon rainforest
Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon Rainforest , also known in English as Amazonia or the Amazon Jungle, is a moist broadleaf forest that covers most of the Amazon Basin of South America...

 so that Alcoa
Alcoa
Alcoa Inc. is the world's third largest producer of aluminum, behind Rio Tinto Alcan and Rusal. From its operational headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Alcoa conducts operations in 31 countries...

 could build the Tucuruí dam
Tucurui dam
The Tucuruí Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Tocantins River located on the Tucuruí County in the State of Pará, Brazil. The main purpose of the dam is hydroelectric power production and navigation. It is the first large-scale hydroelectric project in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. The...

 to power mining operations. Large areas of rainforest were destroyed, along with the homes and livelihoods of thousands of rural peasants and indigenous tribes.

Malayan Emergency


Small scale defoliation experiments using 2-4-D and 2-4-5-T were conducted by the British during the Malayan Emergency
Malayan Emergency
The Malayan Emergency was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army , the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960....

 in 1951. Areas of jungle close to roadways were cleared using chemical defoliation to help prevent ambushes by Communist Terrorists.

Ontario, Canada


On February 17, 2011, the Toronto Star
Toronto Star
The Toronto Star is Canada's highest-circulation newspaper, based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Its print edition is distributed almost entirely within the province of Ontario...

 revealed that the same toxins used to strip the jungles of Vietnam were also employed to clear extensive plots of Crown land
Crown land
In Commonwealth realms, Crown land is an area belonging to the monarch , the equivalent of an entailed estate that passed with the monarchy and could not be alienated from it....

 in Northern Ontario
Northern Ontario
Northern Ontario is a region of the Canadian province of Ontario which lies north of Lake Huron , the French River and Lake Nipissing. The region has a land area of 802,000 km2 and constitutes 87% of the land area of Ontario, although it contains only about 6% of the population...

. The same day, in response to the Toronto Star article, the Ontario provincial government
Legislative Assembly of Ontario
The Legislative Assembly of Ontario , is the legislature of the Canadian province of Ontario, and is the second largest provincial legislature of Canada...

 launched a probe into the use of Agent Orange.

On February 18, 2011, Ontario's
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 Ministry of Natural Resources
Ministry of Natural Resources (Ontario)
The Ministry of Natural Resources is a government ministry of the Canadian province of Ontario that responsible for Ontario’s provincial parks, forests, fisheries, wildlife, mineral aggregates and the Crown lands and waters that make up 87 per cent of the province...

 widened the probe of Agent Orange spraying to include all areas of the province where government managed forests on Crown land.

The Toronto Star reported that, "records from the 1950s, 60s and 70s show forestry workers, often students and junior rangers, spent weeks at a time as human markers holding red, helium-filled balloons on fishing lines while low-flying planes sprayed toxic herbicides including an infamous chemical mixture known as Agent Orange on the brush and the boys below."

See also

  • Environmental issues with war
    Environmental issues with war
    As well as the cost to human life and society, there is a significant environmental impact of war. Scorched earth methods during, or after war have been in use for much of recorded history but with modern technology war can cause a far greater devastation on the environment...

  • Scorched earth policy
  • Teratogen
  • Vietnam Syndrome
    Vietnam Syndrome
    Vietnam Syndrome is a term used in the United States, in public political rhetoric and political analysis, to describe the perceived impact of the domestic controversy over the Vietnam War on US foreign policy after the end of that war in 1975....


Journal articles / Papers

  • Weisman, Joan Murray. The Effects of Exposure to Agent Orange on the Intellectual Functioning, Academic Achievement, Visual Motor Skill, and Activity Level of the Offspring of Vietnam War Veterans. Doctoral thesis. Hofstra University. 1986.
  • Kuehn, Bridget M.; Agent Orange Effects, Journal of the American Medical Association, 2010;303(8):722.

Government/NGO reports


News


Video

  • Agent Orange: The Last Battle. Dir. Stephanie Jobe, Adam Scholl. DVD. 2005
  • "HADES" Dir. Caroline Delerue, Screenplay Mauro Bellanova 2011

External links