Agent Orange – Vietnam trauma
“In Vietnam, the poorest, the most miserable and the most discriminated ones are the Agent Orange victims."
- Dr. Phan Thi Phi Phi, The Vietnam Association for Agent Orange victims, 2004
While the tragedy of Vietnam is regularly discussed, what remains largely out of public view is the suffering caused by chemicals used in Vietnam. These victims are largely unknown and unheard in the US. Nor have they received any assistance or compensation from the US government or the manufacturers of the chemicals including Dow.
Although the final death toll from the war will never be known it may be as many as four million, with millions more injured and traumatized. The number of victims of Dow’s chemicals which were liberally sprayed over ten per cent of South Vietnam during the war is also incalculable. What is certain is that between 1962 and 1971, US planes sprayed an estimated 21 million gallons of chemicals over Vietnam in order to defoliate forests where they believed communist troops were hiding.
The most extensively used of these defoliation herbicides was Agent Orange , named for orange stripes on the drums it was shipped in. Most was produced by Dow which supplied approximately one third of the nearly 13 million gallons of Agent Orange which was dropped by the planeload over thousands of acres in Vietnam. Lush forests wilted under the onslaught. By the mid 1960s there were reports of increased miscarriages, stillbirths and birth defects among the Vietnamese people and animals.
The Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society has initiated a petition to the US Government. In March 2004 more than 4,000 concerned people from around the world signed the petition demonstrating the global reach of solidarity and sympathy with the Agent Orange sufferers.