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Let's Clean Up After Our Own Chemical Warfare - Agent Orange Still Affects THOUSANDS

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Our condemnation of chemical warfare means nothing if we do not take responsibility for our own mistakes. Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese citizens still suffer from the horrific affects of agent orange, a chemical that was used extensively by our military during the Vietnam War. Children in areas where agent orange was used suffer from cleft palate, mental disabilities, hernias, extra fingers and toes and more serious deformations. The contaminated soil and sediment continue to affect the citizens of Vietnam, poisoning their food chain and causing genetic mutations as well as diseases of the skin and cancers of the lungs, larynx, and prostate. Many of our veterans were also exposed suffer from the affects of agent orange today. Although the US has collaborated with Vietnam in taking steps to clean up contaminated areas, not nearly enough is being done to help Vietnamese victims who simply cannot afford proper care nor the veterans who put their lives on the line for our country. This petition is meant to raise awareness and encourage policy makers to increase efforts to help the victims of our past. We cannot protect the world from atrocities if we do not first correct the ones that have been dealt by our own hands. 

I am of Amerasian decent, born and raised in Massachusetts to a Vietnamese mother and Caucasian father. I now live in Vietnam as an American and witness the devastation of agent orange on a daily basis. I am calling upon everyone to sign this petition because it is the just thing to do — for the victims of agent orange and for the honor of our nation.


A Brief History

Agent orange was used as a defoliant during the Vietnam War to clear millions of hectares of countryside vegetation in an attempt to expose enemy forces and deprive them of food. This tactic was largely carried out by the United States military under Operation Rand Hand [1]. A byproduct of agent orange, dioxin, of is one of the most toxic substances known to man. It attacks the genes and often results in serious illnesses and deformities of multiple generations after exposure to just 1 person [2]. It has been documented and proven that the United States government and those who manufactured agent orange were fully aware of its toxicity as early as 1952, long before its use in Vietnam [3]. It's use in Vietnam was also met with controversy by the scientific community. Despite this, the government assured the public and the military that it was safe and they continued to authorize its use without compunction. 

An estimated 21,136,000 gallons of agent orange was dumped over the the jungle and into the streams and rivers of Vietnam from 1962 to 1971 [4], destroying the ecosystem and poisoning millions of Vietnamese and thousands of US veterans who came in contact with it. Due to dioxin's chemical stability, once it enters the body, it lasts a long time [5]. It is also extremely resistant to environmental degradation. Nearly 50 years after the war, dioxin contamination is still an environmental epidemic in Vietnam. Not nearly enough has been done to improve the situation as people continue to be poisoned through the environment and food supply. The rate of birth defects, which has been scientifically linked to dioxin toxicity in numerous studies, continues to be extremely high in zones where agent orange was used. Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the United States government as well as the private entities that manufactured agent orange. The outcomes of these lawsuits have yielded little success in providing proper aid to victims because those responsible continue to deny accountability.

(1) Alvin Young, The History, Use, Disposition and Environmental Fate of Agent Orange 

(2) Palmer, Michael (2007). "The Case of Agent Orange". Contemporary Southeast Asia. 29: 172–195.

(3) King, Pamela. (October 13th, 2010). The Use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War and its Effects on the Vietnamese People (master's thesis), 15.

(4) "Agent Orange". United States Department of Veterans. January 9, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-18.



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