Congress Approves Funding for Joint Program To Study the Effects of
Agent Orange Spraying in Vietnam
During the Vietnam War, the United States sprayed millions of gallons of
the defoliant Agent Orange over the forests of Vietnam. The herbicide
was contaminated with one of the most toxic dioxins — TCDD— exposing
U.S soldiers and large numbers of Vietnamese to the chemical.
For the past 30 years, Vietnam veterans have waged their own private
"wars" seeking compensation for Agent Orange-related health
problems--cancer, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, immune disorders,
neurological problems and other devastating health conditions- as well
as birth defects and developmental problems in their children.
Each new category of compensation has taken years for recognition and
payment programs because no new research is ongoing in the United States
to support the veterans' claims. It seems ironic that the same
country that has not funded the research needed to resolve the health
issues in their own veterans is planning to approve massive funding to
study Agent Orange-related health conditions in Vietnam.
Funding for the joint study progam has been approved by Congress on the
condition that Vietnam also provides support. Suggested studies include
research on the carcinogenic effects of dioxin; an examination of
developmental diseases (neurological and growth) in children exposed to
the chemical; and new methods for assaying and analyzing residual
Officials from the National Institute of Environmental Health Science
will develop a research plan that will be presented for discussion with
their Vietnamese counterparts. No funding or starting point has yet been
set for the research. US scientists on the panel said it should be done
soon to capture the human and environmental impact of dioxin while
worthwhile research results can still be obtained.
In return for its contribution to US studies of the human and
environmental impact of the wartime spraying, Vietnam is expected to
seek US assistance with its pollution problems.Clearly,Vietnam has been
left with a toxic legacy. Many areas remain unforested, and many people
still face exposure from residual dioxin in soil, water and animal fats.
Editors' Note: BRDC has worked with families of Vietnam veterans since
1986. These brave men and women served their country in a long and
bitter war and they should receive the first priority for compensation
and reparations for health effects they have suffered because of their
exposure to Agent Orange. On-going population exposures to Agent Orange
in Vietnam are not entirely comparable to the wartime exposures of
veterans. Although valuable research on environmental exposures to
dioxin may be the outcome of the proposed joint-study, these findings
may have little impact on the continued claims of Vietnam veterans.
Society of the 5th Division