Vietnam is again seeking justice for the victims of Agent Orange, inspired by the multimillion-dollar verdicts against Monsanto in California. The biotech firm had supplied the US military with the chemical during the Vietnam War.
The Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) has written a letter to a US court asking that it restart a class-action lawsuit by Agent Orange victims against American chemical firms, including Monsanto, which the Eastern District Court of New York dismissed in 2004, claiming a “lack of evidence” and asserting that “herbicide spraying.. did not constitute a war crime pre-1975.”
Citing two recent court rulings in San Francisco, where Monsanto’s Roundup was found responsible for health damages and the company was ordered to pay millions of dollars in compensation, VAVA asserted that it is time for the company to take responsibility for supplying the US military with Agent Orange during the brutal chemical warfare campaign (1961-1971) against Viet Cong guerilla fighters in which 12 million gallons of herbicide were used.
Dioxin, a highly toxic element of Agent Orange, has been linked to major health problems such as birth defects, cancers other deadly diseases. Stressing that Vietnam currently has more than 4.8 million Agent Orange victims, the letter asked for justice for people with hideous deformities.
“Where is the justice for Vietnamese victims who are being destroyed every day by the toxic chemical?” the letter asks.
Is all the scientific evidence, with people as living proof, and Vietnam’s environment ravaged by Agent Orange used by the US in a meaningless war from 1961-1971 still not convincing?
Monsanto, which was acquired by German giant Bayer AG last June, in the past argued that it was the US military that had set the specifications for making Agent Orange and decided on where and how the herbicide was used. The company also noted that it was just one of many wartime US government contractors who manufactured the toxin.
Last month a jury in San Francisco awarded $80 million in punitive damages to Edwin Hardeman after the court found that Roundup, Monsanto’s infamous glyphosate-based herbicide, was a “substantial factor” in causing non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer. In a similar case in August 2018, Dewayne Johnson was awarded $289mn after developing cancer from long-term exposure to Roundup. After months of legal drama, the terminally ill cancer patient agreed to a reduced payout of $78 million.