In class we learned about Agent Orange, a mix of defoliants the U.S. military used to strip trees of their cover to expose the N. Vietnam and Viet Cong troops during the Vietnam War. While Agent Orange succeeded in this, and in destroying crops used to feed the Vietnamese troops, it also created many health problems for all of the soldiers, people living in Vietnam, and even family members of U.S. soldiers.
Because Agent Orange contains dioxin, it can cause tumors, birth defects, rashes, psychological problems, and cancer. Naturally, when these health problems began occurring, the U.S. soldiers and their families were upset about the negative effects on their health. In 1979, a lawsuit was filed against the manufacturers of Agent Orange, demanding compensation to the U.S. soldiers and their families. In five years, they were granted $180 million from seven of the manufacturers.
Millions of Vietnamese have also had detrimental health problems as a result of the exposure to Agent Orange.
- 400,000 people were killed or maimed
- .5M children were born with serious birth defects
- 2M people in Vietnam suffer from cancer or other illnesses
Many of these people had nothing to do with the Vietnamese militaries, but still suffered from the effects of Agent Orange. I think is interesting that many times, the people who are involuntarily forced into a situation are NOT the ones compensated. A group of Vietnamese citizens also filed a lawsuit against the same chemical companies. However, in their case, the suit was dismissed.
Other cases where compensation wasn’t granted:
- United States Slavery Reparations
- Henrietta Lacks Immortal Cells
- Tuskegee Experiments