Monday, November 01, 2010

Agent Orange

Agent Orange is the code name for one of the herbicides (is a type of pestice used to kill unwanted plants) and defoliants (is any chemical sprayed or dusted on plants to cause its leaves to fall off) used by the U.S military as part of its chemical warfare (CW) involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971.

It was manufactured for the U.S Department of Defence primarily by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical. The herbicides used to produce Agent Orange were later discovered to be contaminated with 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzodioxin, an extremely toxic dioxin compound. It was given its name from the color of the orange-striped 55 US gallons (210 L) barrels in which it was shipped.

During the Vietnam war, between 1962 and 1971, the United States military sprayed 20,000,000 US gallons (80,000,000 L) of chemical herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia, as part of Operation Ranch Hand. The program's goal was to defoliate forested and rural land, depriving guerrillas of cover; another goal was to induce forced draft urbanization, 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. In South Vietnam alone, an estimated 10 million hectares of agricultural land were ultimately destroyed.

The Vietnam Red Cross reports that as many as 3 million Vietnamese people have been affected by Agent Orange including at least 150,000 children born with birth defects, while 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, extra fingers and toes. In the 1970s, high levels of dioxin were found in the breast milk of South Vietnamese women, and in the blood of U.S. soldiers who had served in Vietnam.

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