Vietnam demands compensation for victims of US chemical warfare

Vietnam Monsanto

Vietnam, the country that defeated U.S. imperialism through decades-long war, is seeking justice for the victims of Agent Orange.

Media reports said:

Vietnam, the Southeast Asian country and victim of imperialist war, has felt encouraged by the multimillion-dollar verdicts against Monsanto in California, U.S.A.

Monsanto, one of the largest biotech firms in the world, supplied the US military with the chemical agents during the Vietnam War the U.S. continued on the pretext of containing communists.

The Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) has written a letter to a US court asking that it restart a class-action lawsuit by Agent Orange victims against American chemical firms, including Monsanto.

This class-action lawsuit was dismissed in 2004 by the Eastern District Court of New York, claiming a “lack of evidence”, and asserting, “herbicide spraying did not constitute a war crime in pre-1975.”

The VAVA cited two recent court rulings in San Francisco. These rulings found Monsanto’s Roundup responsible for health damages. The rulings ordered the company to pay millions of dollars in compensation.

Based on the rulings the VAVA asserted that it is time for the company to take responsibility for supplying the US military with Agent Orange during the brutal chemical warfare campaign (1961-1971) against Viet Cong guerilla fighters in which 12 million gallons of herbicide were used.

The millions of gallons of herbicide produced by Monsanto Corporation, among others, were dropped over the jungle to defoliate it. Because of such a high level of exposure to dioxin, a byproduct found in Agent Orange, millions of Vietnamese continue to suffer health conditions, often resulting in deformities, which are passed through gene mutations to future generations.

Dioxin, a highly toxic element of Agent Orange, is linked to major health problems such as birth defects, cancers other deadly diseases.

The letter mentioned that there are now more than 4.8 million Agent Orange victims in Vietnam.

The letter from the VAVA asked for justice for people with hideous deformities.

The letter asks: Where is the justice for Vietnamese victims who are being destroyed every day by the toxic chemical?

The question that follows is: Is all the scientific evidence, with people as living proof, and Vietnam’s environment ravaged by Agent Orange used by the US in a meaningless war from 1961-1971 still not convincing?

German giant Bayer AG acquired Monsanto in June in a deal valued at $66 billion. Monsanto in the past argued that it was the US military that had set the specifications for making Agent Orange and decided on where and how the herbicide was used.

The company also noted that it was just one of many wartime US government contractors, who manufactured the toxin.

Last month a jury in San Francisco awarded $80 million in punitive damages to Edwin Hardeman after the court found that Roundup, Monsanto’s infamous glyphosate-based herbicide, was a “substantial factor” in causing non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer.

In a similar case in August 2018, Dewayne Johnson was awarded $289mn after developing cancer from long-term exposure to Roundup. After months of legal drama, the terminally ill cancer patient agreed to a reduced payout of $78 million.

The monstrous company-imperialism alliance and their connection to fatalities is an old legal issue.

Last year, a deputy spokesperson of the Vietnam foreign ministry said:

“Top of Form

The verdict serves as a legal precedent, which refutes previous claims that the herbicides made by Monsanto and other chemical corporations in the US and provided for the US army in the war are harmless. Vietnam has suffered tremendous consequences from the war, especially with regard to the lasting and devastating effects of toxic chemicals, including Agent Orange.”

Monsanto, which has never acknowledged its role in the devastation, argues that Agent Orange “was only produced for, and used by, the government.”

Meanwhile, lawsuits against Monsanto surged from 5,200 to 8,000, requiring the new owner to engage in costly legal battles.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) maintains that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, is not carcinogenic. But the European EPA labeled it a carcinogen in 1985 although it reversed its position in 1991.

The World Health Organization’s cancer research agency classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans” in 2015.

Poisoning French farmer: Monsanto found guilty

Another media report said:

A French court has recently ruled that Monsanto, currently owned by Bayer, was liable for the sickness of a farmer who inhaled fumes from a weed killer made by the company.

The 55-year-old cereal farmer Paul Francois said he has suffered neurological damage, including memory loss, fainting and headaches, after accidentally inhaling Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller in 2004 while working on his farm. He accused the company of not giving sufficient safety warnings.

“Mr. Francois justifiably concludes that the product, due to its inadequate labeling that did not respect applicable regulations, did not offer the level of safety he could legitimately expect,” the court said in its ruling.

“We are currently reviewing the decision of the court,” the company’s spokesperson told the BBC.

The court in Lyon rejected Monsanto’s appeal on Tuesday but did not rule on how much it might have to pay. The compensation will be determined in a separate ruling. Meanwhile, Monsanto was ordered to immediately pay €50,000 for Francois’s legal fees. The farmer is seeking about €1 million ($1.1 million) in damages.

Francois has fought a decade-long legal battle against the firm. He had won rulings against Monsanto in 2012 and 2015 before France’s top court overturned the decisions and ordered the new hearing in Lyon.

Francois told reporters in Paris: “It’s a big sigh of relief. It’s been 12 years of fighting, 12 years during which I had to put my whole life on hold.”

His lawyer Francois Lafforgue described the initial ruling as a “historic decision.” He said it was the first time a herbicide maker was “found guilty of such a poisoning.”

Lasso has been banned in France since 2007 and had already been withdrawn in some other countries.


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