Between 1961 and 1971, US forces sprayed a chemical called Agent Orange over Vietnam's forests. The two countries were at war and the US intention was to destroy tree cover and hinder attacks on its troops by the North Vietnamese. The herbicide has since been proven to have a destructive and lingering effect on both humans and the environment.
Yet a US court recently dismissed a lawsuit filed by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against 37 US chemical companies that manufactured it. In this interview with the Vietnam News Agency, senior Vietnamese scientist Hoang Dinh Cau says that this decision denies the validity of the scientific evidence.
Cau has spent 30 years researching the chemicals. He says millions of Vietnamese suffer from the symptoms of 13 diseases that US agencies have linked to exposure to Agent Orange, or to dioxin, one of its components.
Since the 1980s, US, Canadian and Japanese scientists have followed the example set by Cau and other Vietnamese researchers, and reaffirmed the harmful effects of dioxin and Agent Orange.
Cau says that Vietnamese teams are now poised to conduct genetic studies in the hopes of finding further evidence to support Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.