Vietnamese and foreign scientists gathered at a conference Thursday to compare and verify scientific evidence of the debilitating effects of Agent Orange on victims.

by Thanh Nien News / Source: Tuoi Tre
Translated by Ngoc Hanh

The conference in Hanoi represents an effort on behalf of all parties in attendance to fight the battle for rightful compensation for victims to the very end.

In attendance were some 200 local and foreign scientists, activists and Vietnamese victims, double the number originally expected, reported Tuoi Tre newspaper.

Experts speak up

According to Dr. Le Ke Son of Vietnam’s National Steering Committee for Agent Orange Impact Relief, the latest studies show US troops may have sprayed a whopping 86 million liters AO during the Vietnam War compared to the previous estimation of 72 million liters.

Scientists have also detected gene and chromosome mutations to those exposed to AO/Dioxin, resulting in serious birth defects among offspring for generations, Son said.

“We still need more research to convince people of the link between such deformities and AO/Dioxin, but the much higher incidence of children with congenital anomalies in AO affected areas is a testament to the deadly connection,” Tuoi Tre quoted Nguyen Van Tuong of the Hanoi Medical University as saying.

Several Vietnamese did have normal kids but their children conceived after the war were acutely affected by the defoliant while many others gave birth to six or seven affected children in a row.

“AO/Dioxin is the culprit,” he affirmed.

Dr. B. Tsyrlov, who leads a study team from the US company Xenotox added Agent Orange contains tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), one of the most stable and carcinogenic compounds know to man.

The fight goes on

However, the list of dioxin-related diseases released by the US Science Academy has yet to include defects among the offspring of veterans,” Prof. Bernard Doray from France said, adding “studies on the toxicity have been distorted.”

Although the US Government has taken some steps to relieve the impact of AO on the environment in Vietnam, it has denied responsibilities and has yet to offer compensation to AO-affected people in the country, he added.

“Therefore we must work together on proving the link between AO/Dioxin and millions of affected Vietnamese and step up campaigning in preparation for the appeal court in the US next month,” Doray stressed.

The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin appealed to a US court in September last year after their class-action lawsuit against 36 chemical producers was rejected the year before.

Artist Debra Kraus’s husband had fought in the Vietnam War, and battled dioxin-related diseases throughout the rest of his life, eventually succumbing to lung cancer.

At the conference, Kraus said she would do her best to raise people’s awareness on the tragic consequences of AO and what its Vietnamese victims are going through.

Kraus said after her husband’s death, she demanded compensation from the US government and used the sum to do research on the impact of dioxin, besides raising her voice on the issue by holding arts exhibition since 1999.

“We can’t afford to ignore the suffering of Vietnamese victims any longer and do nothing at all. We must act to help the affected people and prevent more from falling victim to the AO and other toxins,” she urged.