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Friday, July 1, 2011

Agent Orange Disability

Agent Orange

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Nguyen Thi Ly, 9, who suffers from Agent Orange disabilities, in her home in Ngu Hanh Son district of Da Nang, Vietnam, one from Vietnam Reporting Project - Agent Orange, Jul 9, 2010. Nearly 40 years have passed since the U.S. military stopped using defoliating chemicals in Vietnam. However, the legacy of dioxin, the main ingredient in these defoliants, still exists. Receiving little support, more than 150,000 Vietnamese struggle with the devastating health impact. Photograph by Ed Kashi/VII.

The Vietnam War ended in 1975, but the scourge of dioxin contamination from a herbicide known as Agent Orange did not.
"The damage inflicted by Agent Orange is much worse than anybody thought at the end of the war," said Professor Nguyen Trong Nhan, the vice-president of the Vietnam Victims of Agent Orange Association (VAVA).
Between 1962 and 1970, millions of gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed across parts of Vietnam.
Professor Nhan, the former president of the Vietnamese Red Cross, denounced the action as "a massive violation of human rights of the civilian population, and a weapon of mass destruction".
But since the end of the Vietnam War, Washington has denied any moral or legal responsibility for the toxic legacy said to have been caused by Agent Orange in Vietnam.
The unresolved legacy and US denials of responsibility triggered three Vietnamese to take unprecedented legal action in January 2004.

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The plaintiffs alleged war crimes against Monsanto Corporation, Dow Chemicals and eight other companies that manufactured Agent Orange and other defoliants used in Vietnam.
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U.S. Huey helicopter spraying Agent Orange over agricultural land in Vietnam

Agent Orange was designed to defoliate the jungle and thus deny cover to Vietcong guerrillas.
It contained one of the most virulent poisons known to man, a strain of dioxin called TCCD.First it killed the rainforest, stripping the jungle bare.
In time, the dioxin then spread its toxic reach to the food chain - which some say led to a proliferation of birth deformities.
In a small commune in the heavily sprayed Cu Chi district, the family of 21-year-old Tran Anh Kiet struggles with the problems of daily living.

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Agent Orange

In an effort to end the war quicker, the United States began to use chemicals and herbicides to kill the jungle plants so the enemy Viet Cong could no longer hide and use guerilla warfare. The most famous of these herbicides was Agent Orange, a specific blend of chemicals that U.S planes sprayed over the jungle. More than 19 million gallons of herbicide were sprayed on Vietnam in a ten year period.

Unfortunately, Agent Orange had a more significant effect on Vietnam than the U.S. expected. Not only did it kill the jungle, but also a great deal of Vietnamese as well. Most Vietnamese and American soldiers that came into contact with the spray were effected in one way or another.

Vietnamese women gave birth to over 500,000 children with birth defects ranging from cleft palate, mental disabilities, hernias, and extra extremities. Many of theses children were effected from their mothers breast milk; studies showed high levels of dioxide in breast milk. The Vietnamese and Americans soldiers responsible for spraying Agent Orange suffered from
prohibited to employ methods or means of warfare which are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment." The purpose of Agent Orange was to destroy the environment.
respiratory problems, skin rashes, and skin cancer. The soldiers could have avoided the ramifications if they had used proper safety equipment. As seen in the youtube link below, the soldiers had little knowledge on the toxicity of the spray. To this day the aftermath of Agent Orange is evident, genetic diseases remain prominent in the once heavily sprayed areas.

Over 20 million gallons of herbicide were used during the Vietnam War. The widespread effects of Agent Orange and other harmful pesticides were probably not known by the American ground forces during the war. The Americans were less concerned about the Vietnamese people as they were about winning the war. The troops weren't thinking of the herbicides entering the soil and causing birth defects or deaths in Vietnam, they were just concerned about destroying the jungle so they could access the Viet Cong easily. Many Vietnamese and Americans died as a result of this harmful herbicide. The Things They Carried probably doesn't focus much on Agent Orange because it's from a soldier's perspective and they didn't realize the severity of what they were doing, they were just carrying out orders. If Agent Orange is mentioned in the book, it is probably just an American G.I spraying it from a boat to destroy jungle, not killing innocent civilians by accident.


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