The Legacy of Agent Orange: Open Letter to the Board of Directors of Monsanto

To: Board of Directors
Monsanto Company
800 North Lindbergh Boulevard
St Louis. MO 63167
c/o David F. Snively. Secretary

Ref: 10 August 1961 – 10 August 2011

Dear Mr Snively,

Fifty years ago this August, United States Forces began spraying an herbicide manufactured by your company over South Vietnam. During the ten-year period, eighty million litres were sprayed. Agent Orange is the commonly known name of the herbicide.

You may not be aware of the part played by your company in this criminal act, but there have been many protests here in the UK and many other countries at the use of Agent Orange on Vietnam. I have called in at your office in Ho Chi Minh City in the hope of meeting the director and inviting him to the Peace Village at Tu Du Hospital where he would have seen as I have seen the results of your product in jars containing unborn babies, a sight not many people could stomach seeing.

I would have then taken him to see the living victims of Agent Orange, the children with various deformities, no eyes, minus one or two limbs, twisted bodies etc etc etc, due to your product Agent Orange. Unfortunately he used the excuse that he would be out of the city when I was due to arrive, a pity, because he would have had the opportunity to speak to the doctors and nurses who give these youngsters their love and care, trying to help them live a normal life. And if he did not grasp the point, I would have told him that the youngsters were born many years after the war ended in 1975.

Mr Snively, you do not have to travel to Vietnam to see the people who have been affected by your company’s product Agent Orange. In the US there are thousands of Vietnam Veterans suffering from illnesses and disabilities, as are their children, contact the various veterans’ organisations in the US.

In Vietnam there are near to four million such victims, of all ages, many not able to be treated in a hospital or a clinic. Many live at home, in small towns and communes throughout the country. These tragic victims and their parents need our help and the help of your company that made profits running into $billions in manufacturing Agent Orange.

On leaving the peace village I would have asked your colleague in Ho Chi Minh City: “what does it feel like working for a company that has caused this to happen to the children of your country? I ask you the same question. Yes Mr Nively, there are many American children suffering from Agent Orange.”

On 29th July I shall arrive in Ho Chi Minh City to see again these youngsters, and to have meetings, then on 6th August will fly up to Hanoi for an international conference being held on 8th, 9th and 10th, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the use of Agent Orange, while there I shall, along with other international delegates, visit more victims.

In the speech I intend to make at the conference I shall call upon the companies such as yours to accept its responsibility for the horrific damage it has done to the people of Vietnam, and to make compensation to the victims, to fund the building of small clinics, to build respite homes in the communes where the parents can rest from their 24 hour caring of their sons/daughters.

I need not tell you or your board members that many thousands of Vietnamese have died in the past fifty-years and until Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, DuPont and the other companies accept responsibilities, many more thousands will die, those who survive birth in the coming years will suffer as today’s victims are suffering. The effects of Monsanto’s Agent Orange have gone into the third generation of the Vietnamese. Soon, if not already, it will enter into the fourth.

When you place this letter in front of your board members, I hope it will be met with a positive response, not only for them to accept responsibility for the damage done to the people and land of Vietnam, but also to give financial and practical support to the victims and their families.

Such a response will be appreciated.
Look forward to your reply.
Yours sincerely
Len Aldis

Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society
Irish Left Review

June 10th, 2011

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