Makers of deadly Agent Orange keep claiming innocent

After their product Agent Orange has crippled millions of lives in Vietnam from the Vietnam War and onward, the US producers have continued to avoid taking responsibility and blame it on the US government instead.

A parade calling for justice for Agent Orange victims in New York in February 2008

As the Sai Gon Giai Phong tried to contact offices of the US-based Monsanto Thailand, Ltd. and Dow Chemical International in Ho Chi Minh City last May, the offices said their heads had left for missions abroad and any questions can be sent to the companies, which would forward them to authorized people.

Then a question from the paper was sent to the companies, asking if they have ever made any moves to ease the pain of Agent Orange victims in Vietnam, given that the US government has partly admitted their responsibility.

Yet as of mid-June, there’s only one response coming from Dow Chemical. The company said joining the war was a wrong and regretful choice made by the US government and that Dow was only one of several companies assigned by that government, under the US’ Defense Production Act, to produce the weed killer serving the war.

A similar response from Monsanto was sent to Len Aldis, Secretary of the Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society (BVFS), in 2009.

Aldis, who is a keen Agent Orange activist, said those were ploys to shun confrontations over the deadly chemical the companies had produced.
In an email to the Sai Gon Giai Phong before Dow’s response, Aldis said the companies would never admit their responsibility but always pass the buck to the US government.

The activist said at the moment when Agent Orange was produced, the producers were aware that the process would produce the deadly chemical dioxin but they deliberately buried the information. Thus the producers including Monsanto and Dow Chemical cannot act irresponsible for the damages AO left on Vietnamese people, Aldis said.

He accused the companies of hiding facts from the public, saying it’s unacceptable that the companies, after causing so many miseries to millions of Vietnamese people, now reject their responsibility.

The producers of AO now have to join with the US government to compensate for the damages the chemical left on Vietnamese people, Aldis said.

In 1984, US veterans from the Vietnam War were announced to win US$184 million of compensation from Monsanto and other producers of AO, who were found guilty during a trial of causing negative impacts on the health of the soldiers and their children.

Aldis said Monsanto, Dow and other US chemical manufacturers can avoid their responsibility for now but not forever.

Sooner or later they will have to take responsibility for the brutal and immoral things they had done to millions of Vietnamese people, he said.

Monsanto and Dow Chemical were among seven companies producing more than 15 chemical compounds used during the Vietnam War including napalm for bombs and Agent Orange, according to contracts they signed with the US government in 1965. The two companies started operation legally in HCMC in 2007.

Many companies had ended their contracts after waves of boycott and disagreement from the public. Only Dow Chemical continued with the business until 1969.

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Vietnamese joined by foreign voice, hands for Agent Orange legacy

Reported by Do Van-Th.Vu – Translated by Thuy Minh

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