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Case Against U.S. Makers of Agent Orange Junked

Agent Orange was one of the most horrific weapons ever devised by humanity.
IMAGE SHUTTERSTOCK
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Agent Orange was meant to be an herbicidal chemical to kill forests and crops on enemy territory. It was extensively used by the United States on Asian countries during the Vietnam War. The chemical was tested and used in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, the Korean demilitarized zone, and Laos between the early 1960s and 1971. 

The substance was so toxic, it poisoned millions of animals and killed thousands of people. Those who survived were made to live a life of constant pain and suffering. To this day, there are children and adults affected by traces of Agent Orange that inevitably found their way into the food chain. 

Vietnam War Defoliation Mission: A UH-1D helicopter from the 336th Aviation Company sprays Agent Orange on a dense jungle area in the Mekong delta.

Photo by Everett Collection | Shutterstock.

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, February 12, 2012: A young man affected by Agent Orange

Photo by Angela Ostafichuk | Shutterstock.
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Handicapped children in Ho Chi Minh, some of them affected by Agent Orange

Photo by ALEXIS DUCLOS.

Map showing locations of U.S. Army aerial herbicide spray missions in South Vietnam taking place from 1965 to 1971

Photo by U.S. Army (Public Domain).

On May 10, a French court dismissed a landmark case against the American makers of Agent Orange. The case was initiated by Tran To Nga, a 79-year-old French-Vietnamese woman, who is one of the millions of victims of the U.S. chemical. 

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German company Bayer, which acquired Monsanto, the American company that manufactured Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, released a statement on the case dismissal. 

According to Bayer, Monsanto as a contractor was only "operating at the behest of the U.S. government, are not responsible for the alleged damage claims associated with the government's use of such product during wartime."

The prosecution countered that the court used an "obsolete definition of the principle of immunity from jurisdiction," saying the manufacturer was aware of the toxicity of Agent Orange and its indirect effects on humans.

The United States sprayed over 80 million liters of Agent Orange on three million hectares of land in a span of 10 years. The chemical remains in the soil to this day. Generations of children in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam are still being born with disabilities linked with Agent Orange. These include Down's syndrome, cerebral palsy, and extreme facial disfigurement. 

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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