Agent Orange | Teen Ink

Agent Orange MAG

March 30, 2008
By Anonymous

There is no denying that the Vietnam War was one of the most devastating military conflicts in the history of the United States. Costing over $150 billion and resulting in more than 55,000 American casualties, the war brought much suffering to the U.S. However, we left behind a legacy that is arguably even more disastrous and continues to bring misery to the Vietnamese people decades later: the lasting effects of Agent Orange.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, “approximately 20 million gallons of herbicides were used in Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 to remove unwanted plant life and leaves which otherwise provided cover for enemy forces during the Vietnam Conflict.” Agent Orange, one of those herbicides, contained the chemical dioxin, which is a suspected carcinogen. Traces of dioxin can be found in food all over the world. The chemical is slow to degrade, so generations of Vietnamese are still feeling the adverse effects of it.

During the war, Agent Orange affected the Vietnamese and American soldiers and citizens alike. No matter what side of the battlefield, all suffered from similar ailments including severe skin diseases, damaged nerves and lymphatic glands, and cancer of the lungs, larynx, and prostate. However, it is not these immediate ­effects of Agent Orange that are raising eyebrows and eliciting bewilderment and shock. Due to the persistence of the chemical dioxin, the Vietnamese living in the sprayed areas continue to inhale it and ingest it in their food. ­According to BBC News, “there is still talk of evacuating contaminated areas a quarter of a century after the spraying stopped.”

Birth defects among Vietnamese children born in the sprayed areas are common. Not only do babies have an increased rate of cancer and brain damage, but many are born with terrible deformities such as coned or oddly shaped heads, eyeballs literally bulging out, and disproportionate limbs.

Until 2002, the U.S. denied that dioxin from Agent Orange was responsible for the health issues of the Vietnamese in the sprayed areas, but in 2007 President Bush pledged $3 million to help fix the contaminated areas.

Whether or not the U.S. should have employed chemical warfare in Vietnam is a separate debate, but the terrible legacy of Agent Orange must prevent future use of chemicals on the battlefield.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Mar. 30 2012 at 4:58 pm
Monsanto is the company responsible for Agent Orange and it is now making GMO food 

on Jan. 18 2009 at 5:33 pm
Agent Orange/ Cancers Melanoma and all cancers Help with Clain to VA