The Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) recently told Reuters that more than 4.8 million people in Vietnam have been exposed to the herbicide and over 3 million of them have been suffering from deadly diseases. Agent Orange was one of many herbicides used by the U.S. military as a weapon during the Vietnam war, and Monsanto was contracted by the government to manufacture it for the Department of Defence. According to Monsanto:
Millions upon millions of gallons of this stuff was dumped over millions of acres of land in Vietnam and other areas, and even today, countless people have been exposed to the herbicide and many of them continue to suffer from deadly diseases. The US government still maintains that the main objective for the spraying was to kill all of the forest cover for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops along with any crops that might be used to feed them. They maintain that they had no idea about the long term health consequences.
Again, as a result of the spraying, very serious health issues continue to this day – including tumors, birth defects, rashes, psychological symptoms, and more. These health issues were not only observed by the population in Vietnam but, of course, by U.S. servicemen and their families as well.
“Questions regarding Agent Orange arose in the United States after an increasing number of returning Vietnam veterans and their families began to report a range of afflictions, including rashes and other skin irritations, miscarriages, psychological symptoms, Type-2 diabetes, birth defects in children and cancers such as Hodgkin’s disease, prostate cancer and leukaemia.” (source)
In the late 70’s, a lawsuit was filed by over 2 million veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange during their time overseas, and several giant chemical companies agreed to hand over $200 million in compensation to the veterans and their families.