Following a Toronto Star investigation, Canadian officials have acknowledged that the country used the infamous chemical herbicide Agent Orange to kill roadside brush from the 1950s to the 1980s. Agent Orange was used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War for chemical warfare. According to a wide variety of scientific studies, the chemical agent is responsible for massively high instances of genetic defects in areas where it is sprayed.
The cancerous tale of Agent Orange
The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs indicates that the U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange (chemically, a 1:1 mixture of two phenoxyl herbicides in iso-octyl ester form) on the trees and vegetation that concealed Vietcong enemy forces in what was code-named Operation Ranch Hand.
Some U.S. veterans were exposed to the sprayed herbicide and its variants, and studies indicate that rates of various forms of cancer, nerve, digestive, skin and respiratory disorders increased dramatically among those exposed. The Vietnam Red Cross reports that a host of birth defects and genetic disorders affected at least 3 million people in Vietnam, including at least 150,000 children. Many other children were stillborn as a result of parental exposure to Agent Orange.
Canadian forestry workers exposed, claims the Star
Archived documents referenced in the Toronto Star Agent Orange investigation reveal that Canada began to dump the herbicide from World War II-era planes onto birch and maple trees and shrubs that needed to be cleared. Forest workers were exposed, and the Star investigation indicates that it caused increased instances of cancer, birth defects and tainted food and water. Canada began using Agent Orange for plant removal in the 1950s, before sufficient research had been done into the dangers of the chemical agent.
Canadian Provincial Transportation Minister Kathleen Wynne has promised that there will be an official government inquiry into the nation’s use of Agent Orange, reports BBC News.
“I don’t have the specific information on how much of it was used by the ministry of transportation, but the independent panel will look at that and we’ll work closely with them,” Wynne told Canadian media.