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Agent Orange: A Deadly Legacy

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Agent Orange: A Deadly Legacy

Agent Orange killed or gravely harmed millions and keeps doing the same.

by Stephen Lendman

Fifty-one years and counting! On August 10, 1961, America began spraying Agent Orange in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Operation Ranch Hand waged herbicidal warfare for 10 years.

Around 20,000 sorties were flown. Other spraying was done from boats, trucks, or soldiers mounted with backpacks. Over five million acres were contaminated. About 20% of South Vietnam was sprayed at least once. 

Millions of gallons of dioxin-containing defoliant were used across vast areas. Concentrations were 50 times greater than for other defoliation purposes. Horrific consequences followed. 

Dioxin is one of the most deadly known substances. It's both natural and man-made. It's a potent carcinogenic human immune system suppressant. Minute amounts cause serious health problems and death.

Agent Orange kills! It accumulates in adipose tissue and the liver. It alters living cell genetic structures. Exposure results in congenital disorders and birth defects. It causes cancer, type two diabetes, and numerous other diseases.

In 2009, the US Institute of Medicine reported evidence linking Agent Orange to soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (including hairy-cell leukemia), Hodgkin's disease, and chloracne.

It also associated it with prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, amyloidosis (abnormal protein deposits), Parkinson's disease, porphyria cutanea tarda (a blood and skin disorder), ischemic heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, cancer of the larynx, lung, bronchea and trachea, as well as spina bifida in offspring of exposed parents.

Vietnam's Red Cross also links it to liver cancer; lipid metabolism disorder; reproductive abnormalities; development disabilities; paralysis; and congenital deformities like cleft lip, cleft palate, club foot, hydrocephalus, neural tube defects, fused digits, and muscle malformations.

Dioxin remains toxic for decades. It's not water soluble or easily degradable. It contaminates soil, foliage, air and water. It can be inhaled, absorbed through skin, or gain bodily entry through eyes, ears, or other cavity passages. It enters the food chain. Crops, plants, animals, and sea life are poisoned.

Its effects killed millions of Southeast Asians. Many others were disabled and/or suffer from chronic illnesses. Future generations are affected like earlier ones.

Around three million US servicemen and women were harmed. So were many American civilians. Many died. Living victims suffer from diseases, birth defects, and other ill effects.

Agent Orange use was always controversial. In 1964, the Federation of American Scientists objected. In 1966, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) issued a resolution. It called for investigating its effects.

In 1967, 17 Nobel laureates and 5,000 scientists petitioned to end its use. In 1969, evidence showed birth defects and still births in mice. In 1970, ecological field tests were conducted. Other studies confirmed dioxin's harm. Ecocide and genocide best describe it. Human studies provided damning evidence.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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