Vietnam points to US court verdict, demands Agent Orange compensation from Monsanto

By Khanh Lynh   March 29, 2019 | 07:35 am GMT+7
Vietnam points to US court verdict, demands Agent Orange compensation from Monsanto
A customer checks a can of Monsanto's weed killer Roundup in the U.S. Photo by AFP

Vietnam's Foreign Ministry has called attention to the link between a recent U.S. judicial verdict against Monsanto and dioxin victims in Vietnam.

The ministry's spokeswoman, Le Thi Thu Hang, stressed in a statement on Thursday that the March 19 verdict by a San Francisco jury is yet more evidence that weedicides could cause direct damage to the human body.

In the judgment, the court concluded that exposure to the agrochemical giant Monsanto's weed killer Roundup was a "substantial factor" in giving Edwin Hardeman, 70, of California non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and ordered the firm to pay him nearly $81 million in damages, compensation and medical expenses.

"As a nation that had suffered the heavy consequences of war, including Agent Orange, Vietnam demands that the companies that had provided the U.S. military with defoliants during the war must have the responsibility to help and assist in overcoming the damage caused by Agent Orange to Vietnam's people and environment," Hang said.

She also welcomed the U.S. Congress and government for assisting in resolving the consequences of war in Vietnam, saying this is widely supported by the people of both countries.

Hang said Vietnam wishes for these efforts to be continued with the participation of the companies responsible, including Monsanto.

Founded in 1901 in Missouri, Monsanto began producing agrochemicals in the 1940s. It was acquired by Bayer for more than $62 billion last June.

Monsanto was one of the producers of Agent Orange, the defoliant used by U.S. troops to strip Vietnamese forces of ground cover and food. Between 1961 and 1971 the U.S. Army sprayed some 80 million liters of Agent Orange over 30,000 square miles of southern Vietnam.

Dioxin, a highly toxic chemical in the defoliant, has been linked to many major health problems such as cancer, mental disabilities and birth defects.

Millions of Vietnamese over several generations have suffered from health problems due to exposure to Agent Orange, according to government data.

In 2004 Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange filed a class action lawsuit in a New York court against Monsanto, Dow Chemical and more than 30 manufacturers of the toxic defoliant. But the case was dismissed by the U.S. court citing "lack of evidence."

Yet, on many occasions Monsanto has been ordered by U.S. courts to pay compensation to American plaintiffs who suffered health issues from exposure to its chemicals.

The verdict on March 19 was the second time in less than a year that a U.S. court found Monsanto's weed killers responsible for causing cancer.

On August 10 a San Francisco jury had ordered it to pay nearly $290 million in punitive and compensatory damages to Dewayne Johnson, a cancer patient whose terminal illness was allegedly caused by glyphosate in the company's weedicide.

At the time too Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry had demanded that Monsanto and other companies responsible for the dioxin sprayed in Vietnam should compensate the victims.

 
 
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