Agent Orange

Throughout wars, armies are constantly introducing new technologies to stay ahead of their enemies. In the Vietnam War, the Americans used Agent Orange, so their enemies would be more visible.

Agent Orange was a herbicide for warm, tropical climates and the American’s and Canadian’s started testing this chemical in the 1940’s, however, it was never tested on humans until nearly the end of the Vietnam War when it was finally discontinued in 1971. Agent Orange was a 50-50 mix of two chemicals know as 2,4,D and 2,4,5,T. Then the final result was combined with kerosene and diesel fuel, creating TCDD or dioxins, which contained powerful carcinogenic chemicals. It was sprayed with helicopters, airplanes, vehicles and by hand on the Vietnam landscape.

After the America troops started developing disease like syndromes, some faster then others, people began to question the impact of Agent Orange on the human population. Laboratories started to test Agent Orange on animals. This led to finding that the animals had contracted a wide variety of diseases, and many of them were life threatening. “A researcher with the New Jersey Agent Orange Commission in Trenton reported finding an average 10-fold excess of TCDD—roughly 45 ppt in fat –among 9-10 veterans who had been Agent Orange sprayers in Vietnam roughly 20 years ago.”[1] Some of these diseases included as Diabetes Mellitus (Type II), birth defects, Chloracne, Hodgkin’s disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Acute and Sub-acute Peripheral Neuropathy, Porphyria Cutanea Tarda, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers and Soft-Tissue Sarcoma and with possibly several other serious diseases. The near end of the war, they finally realized that Agent Orange was highly contaminated with amounts of TCDD. “ The Stellman data show that veterans exposed to herbicides faced an increased risk of elevated blood pressure, benign fatty tumors, a wife’s miscarriage, visual and skin sensitivity to light and symptoms of depression, as compared, with veterans who were not exposed.”[2]

Agent Orange was predominately used in Saigon, Bien Hoa and Cu Chi, these cities and towns received an estimated 19 million gallons. “ The Environmental Protection Agency has called it ‘one of the most perplexing and potentially dangerous chemicals ever to pollute the environment.’”[3] These places were heavily sprayed because the U.S. forces wanted the land bare of any camouflage, so the enemies would have no chance to hide, or ambush them.

Even though Canadian Troops opted to omit themselves in battle of Vietnam, as it was not their war. They provided TB clinics, doctors and nurses, which were very helpful to the American’s for the aid of the wounded. They were also providing things that were not as useful such as bomb bays, bulk explosives and helicopter parts; this did not do much help for the Americans at all. As the Canadians created a Defense Production with the Americans, this occurred through the 1960’s. The economy was being fueled by the arms industry. “ The NDP Leader of the time, Tommy Douglas, called it blood money to the tune of more than $300-million a year. ”[4] This eventually led Canada’s unemployment rate to below four percent. Canada was also apart of the Agent Orange testing. They tested it in CFB Gagetown, but only on vegetation, not the living. “ At the time it was thought to be quite safe for people. Then the formula was altered to make it more effective-for wiping out whole forests in Vietnam.”[5] Pierre Elliot Trudeau tried to end the funding of the arms and chemicals trade to the Americans, but his reign only occurred after it was already too late. As he quotes, “ If it were a question of morality and if I felt that it were bad to sell arms to the United States in a moral sense then I would have to feel that it’s bad also to sell them nickel and asbestos and airplane components.”[6]

Dr. Le Cao Dai directs the Agent Orange Victims Fund of the Vietnam Red Cross. His occupation is to help the people that been contaminated with Agent Orange. Not only the war hero’s, but also the farmers and families that have been affected by this horrible contamination. Dai also treated the North Vietnamese wounded soldiers, and remembers seeing the American planes flying overhead. But until no he realizes that they were spraying Agent Orange in