A New York court has thrown out a civil action brought by the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin and three Vietnamese victims, the first ever action by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. The action called on the defendants – chemical companies involved in the production of Agent Orange (including Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Hercules Incorporated) – to accept responsibility for their actions and to pay full compensation to the victims.
The judge said there was no proof that the chemical caused birth defects and illness had not been proved. However, Ngo Thanh Nhan, a Vietnamese professor involved in the case, pointed out that, in 1984, several chemical companies paid $180m to settle a lawsuit with US war veterans who said that their health had been affected by exposure to Agent Orange. So it seems there is only proof that Agent Orange affects Americans’ health!
“If the medical files [of Vietnamese victims] are not convincing enough, we will use the ones of the American soldiers,” said Professor Ngo. “There’s no reason why those who sprayed chemical products got compensation for their contamination … and the direct victims’ suit is rejected by an American court.” (Cited in BBC News Online)
The Vietnamese plaintiffs have vowed to continue with the case, and are thinking of filing an appeal.
Agent Orange was used by US forces during the Vietnam War to destroy forests, in order to take away the cover of the Vietnamese resistance. It entered the food chain and caused a massive proliferation of birth defects, miscarriages and cancer, in addition to having a profoundly adverse effect on the Vietnamese environment.
Agent Orange has a left estimated 1m Vietnamese people suffering from serious health problems today, thirty years after the end of the Vietnam War. The US government has never accepted any responsibility.