The jungles of South Vietnam were ideally suited for providing enemy cover for the guerilla tactics employed by troops battling South Vietnamese, American, and other allied forces during the Vietnam War. To offset ambush attacks and protect allied forces, the U.S. military sought to defoliate combat areas by developing and using the herbicide Agent Orange. U.S. military research developed Agent Orange, and the product was formulated based on exacting military specifications.
Companies supplying Agent Orange to the government included The Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto Company, Hercules Inc., Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company, Uniroyal Inc., Thompson Chemical and T-H Agriculture and Nutrition Company.
Public concern over Agent Orange has centered not over the product itself, but an unavoidable by-product that was present in only trace levels of one of the product's ingredients. The unavoidable trace by-product was the dioxin compound 2,3,7,8-TCDD.
As a nation at war, the U.S. government compelled a number of companies to produce Agent Orange under the Defense Production Act. The government specified how it would be produced and controlled its use.
The scientific investigation on Agent Orange has gone on since the Vietnam War and continues today. There have been extensive epidemiological studies of those veterans most exposed to Agent Orange. Today, the scientific consensus is that when the collective human evidence is reviewed, it doesn't show that Agent Orange caused veteran's illnesses.
Last Updated: June 21, 2007