There is a myth that was postulated by the chemical industry which suggests that the connection between a poison and human health injury has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This is particularly true concerning the issues of Agent Orange and Dioxin exposure concerning Vietnam Veterans’ health.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been mandated for years to resolve doubt in favor of the veteran. In other words, if 50% of the evidence proving that Agent Orange/Dioxin causes cancer and/or birth defects then the decision should be granted in the veteran’s favor. This reasoning is mandated by Federal law.
There is now a movement by a few politicians to change the burden of proof on Agent Orange/Dioxin cases to proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The tortfeasor chemical companies have always tried to utilize this defense to escape liability. Perhaps this is the reason that the infamous Judge Jack Weinstein refused to allow opt out Vietnam Veterans to go to trial against Dow/Monsanto. If the chemical companies were to get this anti-veteran law passed, it would rob veterans of benefits due to them from bing poisoned in the service. In fact the proposed law would almost become cruel and unusual punishment for fighting controversial wars. Even worse is the probability that all military poisoning could become subject to the quasi-criminal burden of proof. Imagine veterans being denied benefits from poisoning from radiation, Dioxin from Iraq and Afghanistan, and any other poisoning.
Let us look at the evidence concerning Agent Orange/Dioxin and cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated with emphasis that 2,3,7,8 polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin is a human carcinogen in 1997. This decision was confirmed by the US National Toxicology Program a year later. In 2010 IARC also declared that two more dioxin like poisons were also human carcinogens. These are 2,3,4,7,8 polychlorinated dibenzo-furan and 3,3,4,4,5 polychlorinated biphenyl. Therefore it is no surprise that these three poisons were found in Vietnam Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange. Imagine these poisons combining in humans to cause cancer.
All Veterans cannot afford to allow politicians to pass this inhumane law based on the testimony of chemical company spin doctors. We as Veterans must stand together as a force to defeat the selfish greed of people that only care about utilizing the military industrial complex to further their economic interests.
George Claxton, Chairman Emeritus
VVA National Agent Orange Committee