Agent orange takes its name from the toxic colored orange stripes that covered the barrels in which it was stored. Monsanto's corporate distinction was assured thanks to it's most potent addition, which contains one of the most poisonous known chemicals ever created, Tetrachlorodibenzop (TCDD).
During the invasion of Vietnam, United States forces sprayed 50,000,000 litres of Agent Orange. The goal was to defoliate forested land and destroy rural areas, depriving the vietnamese fighters and people of food and cover, thus forcing them into urban areas under US occupation.
For those that survived contact with Agent Orange
many suffer reproductive problems, birth defects and cancers. (see images below) In Vietnam 400,000 people were killed or maimed and 500,000 children have been born with disabling and de-figuring genetic defects. Figures for the loss of other species are less well documented. The chemical's effect on the environment has been profound and enduring. To this day an estimated one million
Vietnamese, more than one per cent of the population, suffer disabilities that are directly associated. Last month, over three decades after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, the US has finally begun to fund a decontamination operation.
Meanwhile, in the Brazilian Amazon agent orange has been reborn. Last week approximately four tons
of the highly toxic herbal pesticides were found hidden in the forest awaiting dispersion. If these were released it is estimated that some 7,500 acres of rainforest would have been destroyed, killing all the wildlife that resides there and contaminating groundwater. This discovery may have saved an enormous loss of life but it was not enough to stop ranchers who had already begun spraying in other areas.
Officials were made aware when routinely viewing anomalies on satellite images. An aerial survey confirmed that some 440 acres of rainforest had been sprayed with many thousands of trees left ash colored and dyeing. (top left image below). One can only imagine that the loss of life to other species in the planets most richly biodiverse area is very significant. Jefferson Lobato, a representative from the Brazilian environmental agency IBAMA reports that Agent Orange was likely dispersed by aircraft by a yet unidentified rancher and:"They [deforesters] have changed their strategy because, in a short time, more areas of forest can be destroyed with herbicides. Thus, they don't need to mobilize tree-cutting teams and can therefore bypass the supervision of IBAMA,"
The fight to save the Amazon has never been so critical. The powerful image that heads this website, the lungs of the earth is a graphic reminder of the role these forests play in the survival of our and other species. These lungs have become cancerous, the tumour is not benign. Recent research suggests that the release of carbon from forest areas could become so significant that the regions as a whole act less as a carbon sink and more of a carbon emitter. This is both directly and indirectly related to deforestation and another example of a feedback mechanism; warming is causing increasingly severe droughts, killing more trees, these are not only incapable of absorbing CO2 but they release it in to the atmosphere as they decay. Click here for full report.
In addition many brave activists that protect these territories have been murdered
in the past few weeks. We can only hope that today's announcement
that in the future these great defenders of environmental justice will receive greater protection is realized. We owe it to them, to ourselves and to future generations to organize and mobilize in whichever ways we can. http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_the_amazon/?fp
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