Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Vietnam, Agent Orange, and GMOs

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/vietnam-agent-orange-and-gmos/
An Agent Orange maker is being welcomed back to Vietnam to grow genetically modified organisms.
Vietnam continues to roll out the red carpet for foreign biotech giants, including the infamous Monsanto, to sell the controversial genetically modified (GM) corn varieties in the country. Critics say that by welcoming Monsanto, Vietnam has been too nice to the main manufacturer of Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War that left a devastating legacy still claiming victims today.
According to Vietnamese media reports, in August that country’s agriculture ministry approved the imports of four corn varieties engineered for food and animal feed processing: MON 89034 and NK 603, products of DeKalb Vietnam (a subsidiary of U.S. multinational Monsanto), and GA 21 and MIR 162 from the Swiss firm Syngenta.
The Vietnamese environment ministry has to date issued bio-safety certificates for Monsanto’s MON 89034 and NK 603 corn varieties and Syngenta’s GA 21, meaning farmers can start commercially cultivating the crops. The ministry is considering issuing a similar certificate for the other variety, MR 162. Given the current political landscape, it seems that approval is just a matter of time.

In 2006, the Vietnamese government formulated an ambitious plan to develop GM crops as part of a “major program for the development and application of biotechnology in agriculture and rural development.” Under the blueprint, Vietnam is looking to cultivate its first GM crops by 2015 and have 30-50 percent of the country’s farmland covered with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by 2020.
Environmental activists have noted the irony that just as Americans and people elsewhere around the world are revolting against GMOs in greater numbers, Vietnam is throwing away its great advantage as a non-GMO producer. “Increasingly countries around the world are rejecting GMOs, with public opposition growing daily. Across Europe and much of Asia, Latin America and Africa, people and often their governments are rejecting GMO seeds as an old technology that has failed to deliver on its promises,” said Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, senior scientist at the U.S.-based Pesticide Action Network North America.
The has been an unprecedented surge in consumer rejection of GMOs in the U.S., with food companies scrambling to secure non-GMO supplies, according to the New York Times. Europe forced its entire food industry to jettison GMOs altogether. In one prominent case, European authorities shut down 99 percent of corn imports from the U.S. at a time when only 25 percent of the corn was genetically engineered. Last year, China rejected 887,000 tons of U.S. corn because it contained Syngenta’s GM maize MIR 162 – the very same variety that has just been licensed for use in Vietnam.
The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development report, considered the most exhaustive analysis of agriculture and sustainability in history, concludes that the high costs of seeds and chemicals, uncertain yields, and the potential to undermine local food security make biotechnology a poor choice for the developing world. GMOs in their current state have nothing to offer the cause of feeding the hungry, alleviating poverty, and creating sustainable agriculture, according to the report. Six multinationals – Monsanto, Syngenta, Du Pont, Bayer, Dow, and BASF – now control almost two-thirds of the global market for seeds, three quarters of agro-chemicals sales, and the entire GM seed market, according to a report by Friends of the Earth International, an international network of environmental organizations in 74 countries.
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Excavation begins in Okinawa field where barrels previously found

http://www.stripes.com/news/excavation-begins-in-okinawa-field-where-barrels-previously-found-1.315392
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Workers began excavation Friday on an additional 66 spots at the Okinawa City soccer field where barrels containing toxic herbicides were found last year.
The announcement to investigate the magnetic anomalies — thought to be more barrels or other metal objects — was made Thursday by the Okinawa Defense Bureau. Should any barrels or substances that indicate the presence of defoliants be found, the bureau plans to notify the city and prefectural governments immediately.
The excavation comes on the heels of a report released by the Japanese government in July that found while 83 barrels already unearthed in the reclaimed land adjacent to the Kadena Air Base fence line contained ingredients used in Agent Orange, they were of the incorrect consistency and quantities however, leading officials to instead believe they were used in a common herbicide.

The barrels caused a stir amongst both locals and U.S. military personnel and dependents when they were found. Veterans who have claimed exposure to Agent Orange while stationed on Okinawa said it confirmed what they had been saying all along. Parents of students at the nearby Amelia Earhart Intermediate School, Bob Hope Primary School and the Kadena middle and high schools expressed concern. Activists and local media also seized on the issue.
The U.S. military’s position has been that Agent Orange — which defoliated jungles during the Vietnam War and has been blamed for a slew of health problems in veterans — was never stored, shipped through or used on Okinawa. A study commissioned by the DOD has backed that assertion. The military discontinued use of Agent Orange in the early 1970s.
The defense bureau has said it was unlikely the barrels posed a health risk. Tests have shown the air and water, on and off base, are safe.
The excavation report will be released by the end of March, a bureau spokesman said.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

83-year-old woman cares for Agent Orange patients for 30 years

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/vietnam-in-photos/116005/images--83-year-old-woman-cares-for-agent-orange-patients-for-30-years.html
VietNamNet Bridge – For the past three decades, Dr. Ta Thi Chung has been on the staff of the Hoa Binh (Peace) Village, teaching nearly 200 children who have been affected by Agent Orange.
Every day, Mrs. Chung goes to the Hoa Binh Village of the Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City at 6am to help prepare food for disadvantaged kids, to wake them up for breakfast and to go to school.
Mrs. Chung, 83, a native of Ben Tre province, was the vice director of Tu Du Obstetrics Hospital from 1975 to 1998.
She is also one of the founders of the Hoa Binh Village for AO child patients and disabled kids.
Currently, the village is the home to 60 children who are victims of Agent Orange; some of them were abandoned by parents.
"To me, the great joy is to see the kids – although with a disability - still striving to learn and training themselves to become useful citizens. I only wish that they can go to school and find a job in the future," Mrs. Chung said.
Chung has worked at the village for nearly 39 years.
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Agent Orange in Okinawa

http://thediplomat.com/2014/11/agent-orange-in-okinawa/
Determined citizens are working to uncover “one of the best kept secrets of the Cold War era.”
While the ongoing debate over the heavy presence of U.S. military forces in the southern Japanese prefecture of Okinawa continues to make international headlines – including the decades-long struggle of residents to protect their island region from unsafe aircraft, sexual assaults, and the extinction of a local sea mammal – there is another story that until now has remained almost completely untold: the use of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants in Okinawa.
Determined to end this silence, a group of Japan-based citizens including journalists, professors, and environmental activists have been gathering evidence and speaking out regarding the existence of toxic substances, including Agent Orange, that were found to have been stored, sprayed, buried and dumped in and around Okinawa by U.S. military forces during the Vietnam War era.
Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on October 30, 2014, just ahead of a November 1-2 symposium at Okinawa Christian University titled “Agent Orange and the Politics of Poisons,” three of the symposium’s presenters outlined the journey to begin telling this story – and to attain justice for those who have been impacted by its legacy.
“The usage of Agent Orange and military defoliants in Okinawa is one of the best kept secrets of the Cold War,” said symposium keynote speaker Jon Mitchell, a Tokyo-based journalist who has been covering the story since 2011, and who has recently published a book in Japanese exposing this history and its subsequent cover-up.

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Vietnam dismisses Taiwanese media reports on dioxin-tainted tea

http://www.thanhniennews.com/business/vietnam-dismisses-taiwanese-media-reports-on-dioxintainted-tea-34163.html
On Monday, officials in Da Lat dismissed Taiwanese media reports alleging a mass dioxin contamination among Lam Dong Province's tea plantations as part of a fallacious smear campaign.
Le Van Minh, director of Lam Dong’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said roughly 70 containers of Lam Dong's Oolong tea were flagged by Taiwanese customs agents following media reports about the alleged contamination.
“Since late September, seven TV channels, four newspapers and one news website in Taiwan have claimed that tea plantations in Lam Dong are contaminated with dioxin,” Minh said.
Based on maps of the US' war-era defoliation campaign and other related documents, Lam Dong’s Military Command has affirmed that the province's tea plantations couldn't possibly have been affected by the persistent organic pollutant, Minh said.
He further alleged that Taiwanese tea growers have spread the rumors in an effort to avoid honest competition with Lam Dong's low prices.
Ta Ling Wu, deputy head of the Taiwanese Trade Association in Vietnam, said his agency would hold a press conference in Taipei on November 24 to prove that Lam Dong’s tea plantations are dioxin-free.
The Central Highlands province of Lam Dong is home to around 3,000 hectares of high-quality tea plantations whose tea leaves are processed for export to the United States, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Europe.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

EXCLUSIVE DOCUMENTS: DOD Keeping Toxic Exposure to Veterans Hidden from Public

http://www.politichicks.tv/2014/11/exclusive-documents-dod-keeping-toxic-exposure-veterans-hidden-public/
Veterans and civilian workers who worked at Ft. McClellan, Alabama between 1935 and 1999 were exposed to a number of toxic chemicals. Ft. McClellan was used for a multitude of purposes, including Military Police Corps, Women’s Army Corps, Chemical Corps and Vietnam Training. At any given time, Ft. McClellan had a population of 10,000 people. 5,000 were permanently assigned and 1,500 civilians were employed.
The base closed in 1999 and the Military Police School and Army Chemical School were relocated to Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. Currently, the Alabama National Guard operates Ft. McClellan, where the National Guard Officer Candidate School takes place. The Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Domestic Preparedness is also housed on base.
Those who were at Ft. McClellan from 1935-1999 experienced toxic exposure from: Agent Orange, Agent Blue, Sarin, VX, Uranium, Polychlorinated Biphenyl (PCB) and Trichloroethylene (TCE). Army post
Here’s what these chemicals are used for:
  • Agent Orange: used by U.S. military as means of killing plants in a regional area (known as herbicidal warfare program during Vietnam War)
  • Agent Blue: kills plants by drying them out
  • VX: no known uses except in chemical warfare as a nerve agent
  • Uranium: tinting and shading in early photography; ammunition, shielding material used to store and transport radioactive materials
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyl: primarily used as dielectric and coolant fluids
  • Trichloroethylene: drying out remainder of water for production of 100% ethanol; dry cleaning solvent; clean kerosene-fueled rocket engines
What does this mean for our veterans? It means they have been exposed to toxic chemicals without knowing it. They are beginning to have serious health issues without knowing the root cause of the problem.
Cancer. Tumors. Leukemia. Kidney failure. Malignant Melanoma. Fetal death and miscarriage. Problems with short-term memory. These are just a very few of the side effects. A website dedicated to helping Ft. McClellan Veterans has a page dedicated to the symptoms caused by each of the known toxins.
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Call To Action!

HELP! We have a serious problem and need the help of all concerned veterans. Please share!
WE NEED YOU TO CALL YOUR TWO SENATORS ON MONDAY TO SUPPORT NAVY VETERANS DYING OF AGENT ORANGE RELATED DISEASES.
The ship bill is in jeopardy.  It was amended to the National Defense Act and will be worked on any day.  We cannot afford to let this die.  If passed it will reduce the cost of HR 543 to a passable bill.  The first and most important thing action you can take is on Monday morning to call your 2 senators to request they pass this amendment (Section 1062 of Senate Bill 2410, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015). 
Here is the story. Section 1062 of Senate Bill 2410, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 contains a requirement that the Navy pinpoint the closest approach to land for all ships deployed to Vietnam. This will allow the crew of any ship that entered the rivers or tied up to a pier to receive the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange and increase the chances of these who entered bays such as Da Nang Harbor to receive that presumption. This measure has passed the House of Representatives twice in two different bills.
The Navy is fighting back saying that they do not want to do the study because it would cost $5 million. Our experts disagree and notes that the Navy has inflated the number of log pages that would have to be reviewed.
In fact, 305 of the 713 ships that deployed have already been confirmed to have entered rivers or tied up to a pier. So almost half of the job has already been done for them. In addition to getting benefits to thousands of folks who are sick with Agent Orange related diseases, this study will allow the Congressional Budget Office to determine the cost of another bill, which will formally extend the presumption of exposure to the territorial seas. That bill has been held up for four years in Committee, because we cannot determine the actual cost.
So please call both of your Senators. You can google their names to get their phone numbers or google "U. S. Senate delegation" and the name of your State. They do listen to these messages and it will help. Don’t worry about your Member of Congress, the bill has passed the House. Please call your Senators. Then if you have time, call the offices of the Senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Their names are attached. Make sure you say this is Section 1062 of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act Senate Bill 2410.

Respiratory Cancers and Agent Orange

http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/respiratory_cancers.asp
Veterans who develop respiratory cancer (lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea) and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and service to be eligible to receive VA health care and disability compensation.

About respiratory cancers

doctor looking at lung x-ray
Respiratory cancers are cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus.
Symptoms vary, depending on the location of the cancer:
  • Lung cancer—a new cough or cough that doesn’t go away, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness
  • Cancer of the trachea—dry cough, hoarseness, breathlessness, difficulty swallowing
  • Cancer of the larynx (at the top of the trachea)—hoarseness, voice changes, sore throat or earache, feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Cancer of the bronchus—cough, chest pain, coughing blood
- See more at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/respiratory_cancers.asp#sthash.IoCHCTvI.dpuf
Veterans who develop respiratory cancer (lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea) and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and service to be eligible to receive VA health care and disability compensation. - See more at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/respiratory_cancers.asp#sthash.IoCHCTvI.dpuf
Veterans who develop respiratory cancer (lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea) and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and service to be eligible to receive VA health care and disability compensation.
About respiratory cancers;                                                                                                                                         
Respiratory cancers are cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus.
Symptoms vary, depending on the location of the cancer:
Lung cancer—a new cough or cough that doesn’t go away, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness
Cancer of the trachea—dry cough, hoarseness, breathlessness, difficulty swallowing
Cancer of the larynx (at the top of the trachea)—hoarseness, voice changes, sore throat or earache, feeling of a lump in the throat
Cancer of the bronchus—cough, chest pain, coughing blood
Visit Medline Plus to learn more about treatment of cancer and the latest research from the National Institutes of Health
Veterans' Diseases Associated with Agent Orange
http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/index.asp
VA assumes that certain diseases can be related to a Veteran’s qualifying military service. We call these "presumptive diseases." VA has recognized certain cancers and other health problems as presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service. Veterans and their survivors may be eligible for benefits for these diseases.
Veterans who develop respiratory cancer (lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea) and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and service to be eligible to receive VA health care and disability compensation.

About respiratory cancers

doctor looking at lung x-ray
Respiratory cancers are cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus.
Symptoms vary, depending on the location of the cancer:
  • Lung cancer—a new cough or cough that doesn’t go away, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness
  • Cancer of the trachea—dry cough, hoarseness, breathlessness, difficulty swallowing
  • Cancer of the larynx (at the top of the trachea)—hoarseness, voice changes, sore throat or earache, feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Cancer of the bronchus—cough, chest pain, coughing blood
- See more at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/respiratory_cancers.asp#sthash.IoCHCTvI.dpuf
Veterans who develop respiratory cancer (lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea) and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and service to be eligible to receive VA health care and disability compensation.

About respiratory cancers

doctor looking at lung x-ray
Respiratory cancers are cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus.
Symptoms vary, depending on the location of the cancer:
  • Lung cancer—a new cough or cough that doesn’t go away, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness
  • Cancer of the trachea—dry cough, hoarseness, breathlessness, difficulty swallowing
  • Cancer of the larynx (at the top of the trachea)—hoarseness, voice changes, sore throat or earache, feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Cancer of the bronchus—cough, chest pain, coughing blood
- See more at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/respiratory_cancers.asp#sthash.IoCHCTvI.dpuf
Veterans who develop respiratory cancer (lung, bronchus, larynx, or trachea) and were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during military service do not have to prove a connection between their disease and service to be eligible to receive VA health care and disability compensation.

About respiratory cancers

doctor looking at lung x-ray
Respiratory cancers are cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea, and bronchus.
Symptoms vary, depending on the location of the cancer:
  • Lung cancer—a new cough or cough that doesn’t go away, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness
  • Cancer of the trachea—dry cough, hoarseness, breathlessness, difficulty swallowing
  • Cancer of the larynx (at the top of the trachea)—hoarseness, voice changes, sore throat or earache, feeling of a lump in the throat
  • Cancer of the bronchus—cough, chest pain, coughing blood
- See more at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/conditions/respiratory_cancers.asp#sthash.IoCHCTvI.dpuf
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Vietnamese, US leaders meet

http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/government/116489/vietnamese--us-leaders-meet-on-east-asia-summit-s-fringes.html
VietNamNet Bridge – Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and US President Barack Obama lauded encouraging progress made in the relations between the two countries, especially since they set up the comprehensive partnership in 2013, during a meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, on November 13.

At the event held on the sidelines of the ninth East Asia Summit and other summits, the two leaders highlighted bilateral co-operation in economy, trade, investment, education, health care, humanitarian activities and clean energy, regular dialogues on security-defence and human rights, and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement negotiations.
Dung suggested the US increase funding for cleaning up dioxin and support Vietnamese Agent Orange/Dioxin victims and the clearance of war-era unexploded ordnances. He also asked the US to completely lift the ban on the sale of lethal arms to Viet Nam.
He said Viet Nam's resolve to work closely with the US and other countries to accelerate the TPP negotiation on the basis of balancing interests of all participating parties and giving developing members, including Viet Nam, an appropriate transitional period to realise the treaty. He spoke highly of the role of President Obama in the work.
Obama renewed his commitment to enhancing relations with a focus on areas benefiting the two peoples.
He applauded the two countries' signing of the agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy and said ties would be fostered in economy, security-defence, education-training, people-to-people exchange, and clean energy.
He pledged to continue assisting Viet Nam with dioxin detoxification and bomb and mine clearance while welcoming the country's joining of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the other Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Regarding TPP negotiations, President Obama said he would consider flexibilities for Viet Nam that served both sides.
He said saw the Mekong Sub-region as important, including the effective and sustainable use of water resources, adding that the US would expand assistance to Viet Nam and other countries within the Lower Mekong Initiative.
The two sides also exchanged views on important regional and international issues with a view to bolstering bilateral affiliation within relevant ASEAN forums and contributing to regional peace, stability, security and co-operation.

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Dioxin Case: International Paper Cleared, Waste Management Settles

Dioxin Case: International Paper Cleared, Waste Management Settles
International Paper corporation has been cleared of responsibility by a jury after being accused by Harris County of polluting the San Jacinto River with Dioxin.
Co-defendant Waste Management agreed to a $29.2 million settlement in an agreement negotiated before the verdict was reached.
Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan was asking the jury to assess billions of dollars in fines against the two companies.
Waste Management and International Paper absorbed two operations responsible for dumping Dioxin laced material in the San Jacinto Waste Pits back in the mid 1960's.
The County claims much of that poisonous material has leaked into the river and the companies responsible did nothing to stop it.
Environmental activists called the settlement a win for residents of surrounding neighborhoods.
"I think for the community members this is a victory along our journey. The fight over the waste pits and the San Jacinto River is far from over, but the company that created the site now settling I think it is a victory along our way," said Jackie Young of the San Jacinto River Coalition.
Houston based Waste Management says it's pleased with the settlement.
" Our focus remains, as it always has, on fully participating in the very structured and well-defined EPA process, established to evaluate and determine the appropriate remedy for the site. We're fully committed to a final cleanup plan that rigorously protects public health and the environment," said Toni Beck, Waste Management's VP of Corporate Communication.
The Environmental Protection Agency is deterring the future of the San Jacinto Waste Pits.
The EPA may leave the waste stored where it is or could require Waste Management and International Paper to pay for complete removal of the toxic material.
The Harris County Attorney's Office says the settlement proceeds will be split equally with the State of Texas.

Seoul court rules against Vietnam War defoliant victims in retrial

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20141114000832
A Seoul appellate court, in a retrial, ruled Friday against South Korean Vietnam War veterans demanding compensation for their exposure to defoliant.
Ruling in favor of two U.S. producers of toxic chemicals, the Seoul High Court did not recognize epidemiological correlations between the defoliant and diseases such as lymphoma suffered by the more than 5,000 plaintiffs.
"Agent Orange producers did not thoroughly verify harmful effects of dioxin on human beings," the court said in its ruling.
The court, however, said it cannot be concluded that the exposure to the defoliant directly caused such diseases. "The causes of these diseases are very complicated," the court said.
A total of 16,579 South Korean veterans and their families filed two separate lawsuits in 1999 against Dow Chemical Co. and Monsanto, seeking more than 5 trillion won ($4.9 billion) in damages, but a district court ruled against the plaintiffs.
In 2006, the Seoul High Court, in a landmark ruling, overturned the decision and ordered the two firms to pay compensation ranging from 6 million won to 46 million won to the veterans for physical handicaps they sustained from the defoliant.
It marked the first time for a South Korean court to rule against the U.S. defoliant manufacturers responsible for using Agent Orange in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s in order to deny the People's Army of Vietnam refuge in the jungle terrain.
The Supreme Court, however, in 2013 reversed the lower court ruling and sent the case back for review, excluding a favorable ruling on 39 soldiers who have suffered from chemical acne.
Upholding the lower court's decision for compensation, the Supreme Court recognized the link between their exposure to the defoliant and the disease for the first time in the world.
More than 4.7 million Vietnamese are said to continue to suffer from a range of illnesses, including birth defects, cardiovascular disease, cancer and nervous disorders because of the chemical defoliant dropped during the war. South Korea fought alongside the U.S against communist North Vietnam in the war.
South Korea dispatched about 320,000 soldiers to Vietnam to become the largest foreign contingent of U.S. allies fighting in the war, with 5,000 killed in action and nearly 11,000 others wounded, according to official government data.
South Korean activists estimate the number of Korean victims of the chemicals at around 150,000.  (Yonhap)