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So much for Agent Orange being "harmless"!

Scientists have long been saying otherwise, and here's one more study to prove it...

New Zealand troops who served in the Vietnam War suffered significant genetic damage from exposure to Agent Orange, a study suggests.

The chemical was used by the US military in Vietnam in the 1960s.

It has been blamed for a variety of medical conditions suffered by soldiers and up to four million Vietnamese.

The study by New Zealand's scientists could have a big effect on campaigners' efforts to sue major chemical firms and the US government, correspondents say.

The US military sprayed some 80m litres of Agent Orange on North and South Vietnam.

The aim was to destroy jungle foliage in order to find communist fighters more easily.

Agent Orange contained highly toxic dioxins which have since been blamed for causing cancers and other illnesses.

They have also been blamed for birth defects suffered by the children and even grandchildren of Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese civilians.

This has been strongly contested by the two main companies which made it - Dow and Monsanto - and the US government, the BBC's Bill Hayton in Hanoi says.

A team from New Zealand's Massey University has now shown that the group of 24 Vietnam veterans it tested suffered significant genetic damage, compared with a similar sized group of soldiers who did not serve in Vietnam, our correspondent says.

This may be crucial evidence in the lengthy legal battles still being waged in courts in the US and other countries to prove or disprove the link between Agent Orange and a legacy of illness across three continents, our correspondent says.

Knowing the US government's long history of intransigence on this issue, I wouldn't expect any results soon. Yet, curiously, it does have a web page devoted to the matter. And it lists some truly horrendous effects, such as birth defects, over a dozen types of cancer (some rare, most of them deadly), and type 2 diabetes.

But at the same time, veterans' benefits to those who were exposed have been repeatedly denied. And of course, the companies that produce it haven't coughed up a penny in compensation either, and the government is not holding them accountable. The horrors of Agent Orange are undeniable, but someone's gonna keep denying reality long after it has become ludicrous to do so. Why? Because as always, the Almighty Dollar trumps science and conscience.

Can we also add governmental and corporate schizophrenia to the long list of disorders Agent Orange is known to cause?

Comments

"They have also been blamed for birth defects suffered by the children and even grandchildren of Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese civilians." I know a Vietnam vet that both of his kids have birth defects. So this isn't news to me either. One has severe behavior problems and the other has severe skull deformities that required long and painful surgeries and braces to allow her to even have a chance at a normal life.

The only thing in his life that could even have a remote possibility of causing this was his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. And to top it all off, he lost both of his legs to what is called an IED today. Back then they were just called homemade landmines.

I know nobody that has more inner strength than this guy has. He managed to put himself through collage on the GI bill and get a doctorate in psychology, get married, raise two kids with birth defects into very kind adults and now teaches at a university.

I'm sure the right-wing talking heads would call him a coward or a traitor because he is vehemently against the war and occupation in Iraq. Case and point: Max Cleland/Ann Coulter.

I'm not sure if he got any compensation for the Agent Orange exposure, but I seriously doubt he did. I don't think he really ever wanted to talk about it with me because of what it did to his kids. If the World was fair, he shouldn't have had to work another day in his life after what his own government did to him and continues to deny to this day.

And as far as being harmless, the stuff was a powerful herbicide that had dioxins (a known carcinogen and genetic damaging chemical) as its main active ingredient. Would anyone think spraying today's herbicides at full strength on someone is safe? But somehow the government thinks this crap was?

I can remember meeting a Vietnam vet years ago, at a writers' group meeting in Kingston. He handled Agent Orange--loaded it onto the planes that dropped it, as I recall. He had strange brown raised lesions on his face and hands that ended right where his shirt collar and cuffs began. The only time I'd ever seen anything like them was a photo in a pathology book, of pre-cancerous skin lesions caused by chemical carcinogen exposure.

And I'm sure this guy was one of the "lucky" ones; he wasn't disabled. Yet.

Too bad the capitalist elite media give the US a free pass on using these chemical weapons on Asian people.

What is more amazing is how few US citizens understand just how criminal this action really was. For example, the way they give the US a pass on 'spreading democracy' with Iraq and Afganistan. If there weren't history books available, you could give these people a pass.

These rightwing 'might makes right' fascists never learn because their ignorance is proud and willful.

The 'communist' government of Vietnam shouldn't let this issue rest so easily. But they will (just like India and Union-Carbide's Bobahl disaster) because they need the trade-relations and the money.