Friday, October 24, 2014

Vietnam lacks resources, know-how to rid airbase of dioxin
Vietnam will need at least five years and more than US$250 million to clean up dioxin at a Vietnam War airbase near Ho Chi Minh City, but lacks both the technology and money required, an official said Tuesday.
Le Ke Son, director of a national project for cleaning the chemicals left behind by the US, said more than 250,000 cubic meters of soil at the Bien Hoa military airbase is contaminated and some spots have the world's highest concentration at 1.18 million ppt (parts per trillion).
The airbase, around 30 kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City in Dong Nai Province, is the largest of its kind in Vietnam and is severely polluted since it was occupied by the US Air Force.
Son said the dioxin concentration at the air base ranges from 1,000 ppt upwards while 100 ppt is considered high.
He said officials had initially estimated that only 75,000 cubic meters of soil was contaminated, but proper surveys found more affected spots.
“Given the complicated situation, we won’t be able to clean the airbase by 2020 as we do not have proper technology or money,” he said while speaking at a conference held by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Dong Nai.
The US stored a huge amount of dioxin including Agent Orange, Agent White, and Agent Blue at the airbase to use as defoliants and clear the forests used as natural cover by Vietnamese revolutionary forces.
Between 1969 and 1970, 2,500 liters of Agent White and 25,000 liters of Agent Orange leaked into the environment, including lakes, Son said.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Audacity of Monsanto & the Short Memory of the Vietnam National University of Agriculture
Below is a guest post by Chuck Palazzo, an American war veteran and Agent Orange and Unexploded Ordnance activist and researcher, who is currently living, writing and working in Danang.
A 13 October 2014 post on Monsanto’s blog Beyond the Rows, entitled Monsanto and Vietnam University of Agriculture Collaborate to Develop Talents in Agricultural Biotechnology, announced a new VND 1.5 billion scholarship program “for outstanding students studying agricultural biotechnology. This scholarship aims to nurture and encourage the engagement of young talents in the development of agricultural biotechnology and products thereof to support farmers.”  How noble but I wish the source of funding weren’t an entity that was once voted the Most Evil Corporation of the Year and which happens to have an unsavory “Vietnam connection.”  Audacity (the Yiddish word “chutzpah” also comes to mind) is the correct word to describe this charm offensive.
[I once advised a well-known student organization that they should be careful who they take money from in the form of corporate sponsorship.  One example was an organization that promotes the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco-related products.  The moral of the story is choose carefully and ethically, when it comes to sponsorship.]
At first glance, I had a visceral reaction to the obscene symbolic and practical significance of  this scholarship program, sponsored by Monsanto, one of the companies that gave the world – and profited handsomely from – Agent Orange  (AO) and is now reaping huge profits from highly controversial genetically modified (GM) crops.  For a paltry $70,000, rounded down, they have bought their way into the Vietnam University of Agriculture and the country’s media, a wolf in sheep’s clothing – in more than one media reference – with a Trojan horse approach to improving the bottom line, so to speak.
Keeping in mind that Monsanto’s 2013 revenue was nearly $15 billion, I wonder what the ROI will be on that 70k?  Monsanto execs must be smiling like a Cheshire cat at how easy it is to buy access and influence in a country that was once on the receiving end of one of its most infamous products, a country that continues to pay a steep price in environmental degradation and human suffering, as do US war veterans and others exposed to AO.
If the world were just, Monsanto is one of a number of multinational companies of US origin that would be forced to compensate the millions of victims – here, in the US and elsewhere – for the multi-generational effects of one of their marquee products, Agent Orange, rather than being given the opportunity to (once again) profit from Vietnam.   If they want to curry favor with the public here and massage global public opinion, why not establish a multimillion dollar grant program for AO victims, all four generations of them?  No need to accept any responsibility, just make the lives of these people more bearable, less painful, more livable.  Just do the right thing.


EPA opens the chemical flood gates: 'Agent Orange' herbicide to be approved
After nearly a year of intense public comments and industry lobbying, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy is expected to announce the approval of Dow Chemical's Enlist Duo herbicide for use on millions of acres of US farmland early next week.

Enlist is a new weed control system consisting of genetically modified (GM) corn and soybeans designed to withstand applications of the new Enlist Duo herbicide, which is composed of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup) and 2,4-D, a component of Vietnam-era defoliant Agent Orange.
Dow Chemical created the Enlist system in response to the evolution of so-called 'superweeds' caused by the over-application of glyphosate on genetically modified crops. Farmers have applied increasing amounts of herbicides to control weeds since the approval of GM crops in the late 1990s, causing what many have described as a 'pesticide gusher'. With the addition of the more powerful chemical 2,4-D, Dow hopes to allow farmers to eradicate the herbicide-resistant weeds from their fields, at least in the short term. They also stand to steal some market share away from Monsanto, whose patent on Roundup Ready crops expires next year.
More than 86 percent of corn and soybean growers in the southeastern United States and 61 percent in the Midwest reported hard-to-control weeds on their farms, according to Dow. This represents an incredible number of herbicide-resistant weeds evolving after just 19 years of farming genetically modified crops in the United States.
Yet biotech and chemical companies are still optimistic that they can solve the problems they created with more biotechnology and more chemicals.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Agent Orange Town Hall Schedule

We update our meetings regularly on our Faces of Agent Orange Facebook Page

and the VVA Calendar

EPA Sued by Natural Defense Council Over Enlist Duo
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was sued by the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) over the approval of Enlist Duo, a Dow AgroScience product. The lawsuit was filed soon after the EPA approved the weed control product. The NRDC contends Enlist Duo will further deplete the monarch butterfly population and it is also a risk to human health.
Enlist Duo, a herbicide, contains glyphosate and 2,4-D rousing health, wildlife, and environmental concerns. 2,4-D is a known component in Agent Orange. It has been linked to life-long health conditions and severe birth defects, as well as deaths. Dow hoped to sell specialty crops along with Enlist Duo in the 2015 U.S. planting season.
The EPA has issued first time restrictions as part of the approval of Enlist Duo. The government branch also stated the process was could be a template for future approvals of herbicides for genetically modified crops (GMO). Dow is required to track and report on weed resistance to their product. The EPA has issued a 30 foot in field no spray zone for application areas. Enlist Duo is also banned from being used when wind speeds are above 15 miles per hour.
The herbicide has been approved for use in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. The EPA has 10 other states under consideration for approval for GMOs and the herbicide from Dow. Specialty crops have been genetically modified to tolerate the Enlist Duo herbicide. Enlist corn and soybean will be sold along with the herbicide, as soon as 2015’s planting season. The combination allows farmers to spray their crops and only destroy weeds. The EPA has received over 400,000 comments regarding Enlist and will continue to accept input until November 2014 regarding the other states’ approval.
Concerns from opposing environmentalists, organic consumers, and farmers are running rampant. They claim 2,4-D, which is a component of Enlist, has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, reproductive issues, and other health conditions. Another concern is the possibility that the herbicide may harm neighboring farms. The EPA states it has made the decision based on sound science and conservative measurements. Yet, opponents and neighbors point to over 70 million acres affected by super weeds. These weeds have tolerance to Round up Ready System, which is another herbicide product used by farmers. Moreover, the Natural Defense Council’s lawsuit is an effort to prevent the EPA from allowing Dow to sell Enlist Duo until further tests are done and other agencies are included in the process. According to Sylvia Fallon, a scientist at NRDC, glyphosate has wiped out milk weed, which is a necessary staple for the monarch butterfly and the EPA has not considered this impact prior to approval of Enlist.
The 2,4-D is one of two active ingredients in Agent Orange and when mixed with 2,4,5-T form a highly toxic chemical agent. The chemicals have devastating effects on foliage and people. During the Vietnam War, usage of these chemical agents contributed to horrific birth defects, various forms of cancer, and long-lasting soil contamination. Scientists are split on the effects of 2,4-D alone to humans and animals. It is highly toxic to fish, so keeping it out of rivers and lakes are a valid concern.

Residents deserve answers at meeting in Newport 
Residents and former residents of the West Canada Valley region should plan to attend a meeting next week that will outline some possible reasons why the area has experienced higher-than-normal rates of certain types of pediatric and adult cancers.
Tuesday’s meeting in the West Canada Valley High School auditorium will feature James Bowers, a Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology research scientist with the state Department of Health. The session also aims to discuss the department’s investigation into the area to determine if there’s a cancer cluster. Community members will have a chance to have their questions and concerns addressed.
The people are owed some answers. Assemblyman Marc Butler, R-Newport, who represents the area, last year called on the state for an investigation following reports of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in four children in the West Canada Valley Central School District.
Ray Lenarcic, a retired Herkimer County Community College history professor, last year recalled that he and his students were involved with a citizens group 30 years ago and sought answers from the health department as to why so many children in this area were being diagnosed with rare cancers.
At the time, Lenarcic said, the group’s concern focused on the possibility of water contaminated with dioxin, which has been linked to reproductive issues and cancers. He has suggested the possibility that the experimental use of Agent Orange at Camp Drum — now Fort Drum — in the 1940s and 50s might have worked its way into the aquifer that serves the Kuyahoora Valley area. Agent Orange, a herbicide used widely as a defoliant during the Vietnam War, has been linked to birth defects and cancers, including non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The more than 1,000-member “WCV-What’s Making Us Sick?” Facebook group is responsible for organizing Tuesday’s meeting. The group deserves credit — and answers — and we encourage them to maintain their vigilance until they get them.
Read more: MORE

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dow's efforts help granting of consent
A chemical plant with a controversial history has been granted consent to burn waste product for the next 30 years.
Dow AgroSciences met no resistance to its publicly notified application to the Taranaki Regional Council to discharge contaminants to air except one submission from the Taranaki District Health Board, which was neutral.
The regional council's director of resource consent Fred McLay said the company's engagement with the community, including local environment groups, had obviously paid off.
"It's remarkable given this site and its history that it's gone through the RMA [Resource Management Act] process without a hearing."
McLay said the company had been proactive in consulting key parties, using phone calls, letter drops and a notice in the newspaper.
Since the site was established in 1960, systems for treating odour have been vastly improved and some toxic chemicals ceased production, including the herbicide used to make Agent Orange.
The Taranaki District Health Board's submission wanted to ensure conditions of the consent were enough to protect the health of people and communities.
It requested a consent duration of no more than 15 years.
The consent runs until 2044 but could be reviewed and changed by council if needed, depending on monitoring results, McLay said.
The company, formerly Ivon Watkins-Dow, is known for the chemical dioxin, a by-product of chemicals it manufactured from the early 1960s until 1987.
Dioxin has been blamed for birth defects and cancer of residents in the Paritutu area.
The plant manufactures about 70 different agrichemical products across four main process plants and uses an incinerator to dispose of waste materials.
There is potential for dioxins to form as combustion by-products.
But director of environmental quality Gary Bedford said the company's incinerator was clean and met international standards.
"A backyard incinerator is tens of thousands of times worse."
Testing of dioxin emissions in two residential areas near the site showed concentrations were within the typical background levels in other parts of New Zealand. 

Agent Orange Links

from our good friend George Claxton
Polychlorinated biphenyl levels in the blood of Japanese individuals ranging from infants to over 80 years of age

Agent Orange exposure and disease prevalence in Korean Vietnam veterans: The Korean veterans’ health study

Predictors for dioxin accumulation in residents living in Da Nang and Bien Hoa, Vietnam, many years after Agent Orange use


Blood dioxin levels were measured from residents in Bien Hoa and Da Nang, Vietnam.
Blood dioxin levels were related to individual and environmental risk factors.
Fish farming was associated with higher blood dioxin levels at both locations.
Blood dioxin levels were positively correlated with living on flooded property.
Da Nang dioxin sites are being cleaned up so exposure should decrease.


Agent Orange (AO) was the main defoliant used by the US in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971; AO was contaminated with dioxin (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, or TCDD). Three major dioxin “hot spots” remain from previous AO storage and use at former US bases at Bien Hoa, Da Nang, and Phu Cat, posing potential health risks for Vietnamese living on or near these hot spots. We evaluated potential risk factors contributing to serum TCDD levels in Vietnamese residents at and near contaminated sites in Da Nang and Bien Hoa, Vietnam. We used multiple linear regression to analyze possible associations of blood dioxin concentrations with demographic, socioeconomic, lifestyle, and dietary risk factors for residents living on or near these hot spots. For the Da Nang study, fish farming on the site, living on property flooded from monsoon rains, and age were among the factors showing significant positive associations with serum TCDD concentrations. For the Bien Hoa study, fish farmers working at this site and their immediate family members had significantly higher serum TCDD concentrations. Our results suggest that water-related activities, especially fish-farming, at the hot spots increased the risk of exposure to dioxin.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Upcoming Agent Orange Town Hall Meetings- October 2014

We update our meetings regularly on our Faces of Agent Orange Facebook Page

and the VVA Calendar

Monsanto and Vietnam University of Agriculture Collaborate
Monsanto has announced a pledge of VND 1.5 billion scholarship for outstanding students studying agricultural biotechnology. This scholarship aims to nurture and encourage the engagement of young talents in the development of agricultural biotechnology and products thereof to support farmers.

Children of vets exposed to Agent Orange, other chemicals should file VA claims

Everyone knows Agent Orange is bad, and exposed veterans know that it causes certain cancers and other diseases after exposure.
The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes this, and for all of these cancers and diseases, disability compensation is practically automatic. These are called “presumptive” conditions that are presumed to be caused by the military purely because of time and date in service.
Veterans’ children have long been recognized to have birth defects and diseases resulting from their parents’ exposure to Agent Orange. Currently, the VA recognizes many such conditions in the children of women veterans, but the list for male veterans’ children is significantly shorter. It includes only spina bifida, with the exception of spina bifida occulta. What a lot of veterans don’t know though, is that Agent Orange exposure has also caused numerous, serious birth defects in exposed male veterans’ children, besides spina bifida, according to Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance. The list includes Crohn’s disease, Lupus, thyroid disease, chronic kidney disease, missing limb parts, and webbed toes. According to COVVHA, the list is much larger than this.READ MORE