Purpose & History of Agent Orange
Map of where Agent Orange was sprayed. (Click to enlarge)
Arthur Galston’s purpose of Agent Orange was to develop an herbicide for the U.S Army to use as a defoliant. During the Vietnam War, the United States military found it difficult to fight against the Vietnamese army due to the fact that Vietnam had heavy jungles, and the U.S Army struggled to find the Vietnamese army under their large canopies. Agent Orange being a defoliant, managed to become a huge help to this issue, but possibly a violation to the Geneva Convention since it was used to destroy the jungles of Vietnam, as concealment in dense terrain by defoliating trees, and shrubbery to where Vietnam Armies may be hiding, and also used to deprive Vietnam’s vegetation and food. An estimation of about 19 million gallons of Agent Orange was sprayed over South Vietnam by aircrafts, boats, and infantryman backpack sprayers. About 306,280 acres of forests in South Vietnam were sprayed at least one time, and an estimation of 14 million acres of tropical forests as well. Agent Orange’s spraying was also brought to a conclusion that one spray can kill about 10% of tall trees comprising the forest canopy. Agent Orange did not only affect plants, but mammals and birds that were living in the spayed areas also declined dramatically, and most of their species haven’t returned. Before spraying Agent Orange over Vietnam, studies were aware whether or not the defoliant would harm humans in a way. Although the results didn’t quite prove that it wouldn’t be affective to human beings, Arthur Galston, the United States Government, and the U.S army were convinced and certain that it wouldn’t bring any harm to people. Unfortunately, their certainty backfired. By 1967, confirmations were made that Agent Orange contained chemicals that caused cancer, skin diseases, birth defect, and other major serious health problems. It has been estimated that 4.8 million of Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, including 400,000 deaths and disabilities, and about 500,000 children in Vietnam were born with birth defects. Still to date, Agent Orange has an affect over Vietnam. Even to those who are born in the 3rd generation, and those who were born today have been affected. Agent Orange has caused a huge impact on Vietnams people, and also an impact to the United States Government who are left with the responsibility to clean this mess up, and an impact to Veterans of the Vietnam War who were also affected by Agent Orange.