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Dien reports: "No biotech company has yet got the official green light for selling genetically modified organisms, but it does not assuage the fears that Vietnam could end up with another tragic legacy from a company that once caused many deaths in the country, environmental activists say."

18-year-old Thang, believed to be an Agent Orange victim according to locals who know his mother, waits for customers at a market in Hanoi, 01/09/12. (photo: Thanh Nien News)
18-year-old Thang, believed to be an Agent Orange victim according to locals who know his mother, waits for customers at a market in Hanoi, 01/09/12. (photo: Thanh Nien News)

Monsanto's Return to Vietnam Reopens Agent Orange Wounds

By An Dien, Thanh Nien News

08 February 12


o biotech company has yet got the official green light for selling genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but it does not assuage the fears that Vietnam could end up with another tragic legacy from a company that once caused many deaths in the country, environmental activists say.

It would be ironic if Vietnam becomes a willing party to a "lethal" product made by the same US company that manufactured Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War, they pointed out.

One activist said he was "unhappy" with the way the highest-ranking government official to ever speak about GMOs, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, evaded his question in the National Assembly on Monsanto.

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh, former deputy defense minister, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange, and a sitting legislator, told Vietweek the portion of his question referring to the company had been taken out in the minister’s written reply.

"I was asking about the position of his ministry on Monsanto trying to push for widespread application of GM maize in [Vietnam]," he said.

Between 2.1 to 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals that have been linked to cancers, birth defects, and other chronic diseases during the war that ended in 1975, according to the Vietnam Red Cross.

The minister’s statement, obtained by Vietweek, said: "The field trials have been completed and all the materials and GM maize seeds were destroyed on the spot.

"Such GM crops will have to come under stricter scrutiny in accordance with Vietnamese laws before they are cultivated and produced on a large scale."

In 2006 the government approved a blueprint that envisaged covering between 30 percent and half of the country’s agriculture lands with the controversial gene-altered crops by 2020.

Only three companies – Monsanto, Syngenta, and Pioneer – have been licensed to carry out lab research and tests in Vietnam, the minister’s statement said.

Monsanto accounts for almost one-quarter (23 percent) of the global proprietary seed market.

Rinh is also worried about the weedkiller Roundup Monsanto plugs for use along with its crops.

"By introducing [GMOs] paired with toxic weed killers, the tragic legacy of Agent Orange might repeat itself," he warned.

According to the Missouri-based Monsanto company website, Roundup works by being absorbed into a plant’s leaves and entering the sap system. From there, it works its way down to the roots where it begins to quickly kill the plant. The company states that Roundup is only active in plants, and that it becomes inactive once it touches the soil.

But Monsanto was convicted in France for false advertising in 2007 for its claims that Roundup was biodegradable and left the soil "clean."

It has also been caught falsifying data in its studies. Despite company claims to the contrary, various independent studies have pointed out that lab animals that consumed soybeans or corn treated with Roundup developed serious reproductive problems.

There were changes in testicles, uteruses, the DNA functioning of their offspring, up to a fivefold increase in infant mortality, fewer and smaller babies, and sterile offspring.

With Roundup having been proven toxic to the environment and cause birth defects in humans, activists are wary of another tragic legacy of Agent Orange.

Jeffrey Smith, author of the bestseller Seeds of Deception and founder and executive director of the California, US-based NGO Institute for Responsible Technology, said: "It is not inconsequential that a new genetically modified corn up for review is designed to be tolerant to the herbicide 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange.

"This means that much higher amounts of toxic 2,4-D will drench the agricultural lands where this new crop is planted.

"It would be a harsh and ironic consequence if Vietnamese people suffer from birth defects from both of these Monsanto products, Roundup and Agent Orange."

Vietweek asked Monsanto about the activists’ concerns, but had yet to get a reply at the time of going to press. your social media marketing partner


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+17 # Tippitc 2012-02-08 19:04
Monsanto and their GMO buddies need to be stopped before they reek any more havoc!! Mother Nature will always be WAY AHEAD of them - there are already cases of weeds and bugs adapting to the GMOs which means they will have to develop ever more toxic chemicals to combat the SUPER weeds and bugs. Monsanto is EVIL!!
+11 # Risa de Angel 2012-02-08 23:18
Monsanto is a death-dealing corporation if there ever was one.
+7 # Valleyboy 2012-02-09 04:28
Looks like Vietnamese ministers a coming under intense behind the scenes pressure to force GMO's on their people. No doubt there's bribery involved, given Monsanto's past record.
Funnily enough, Monsanto is not the only GM company to have war crimes under it's belt.
Bayer & BASF were the main companies of chemical conglomerate IG Faben, who ran, & profited enormously from, Auschwitz.
+10 # GF4A 2012-02-09 06:43
As an environmental food activist I follow the GMO scene quite closely.

What Monsanto, Syngenta & other biotech companies are trying to do amounts to human rights violations!

It's bad enough that Agent Orange was USED in Vietnam and CONTINUES to POISON the people - but now Monsanto and other biotech firms want to use the pretense of feeding people to advance their mission: to control the world's food production with their GMO crops!

The recent human rights trial in India of biotech firms CONVICTED the "Big 6" Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, BASF, Bayer and Dupont!

Why can't this be held on a worldwide scale?

They are poisoning and enslaving this entire planet!
-8 # T4D 2012-02-09 10:47
Is there any room here for proven science? All grasses are, and have always been naturally resistant to 2,4-D. Corn (Maize) is a grass. Farmers once used 2,4-D to kill broad-leafed weeds in their corn, wheat, barley and oats. To reduce the cost of killing weeds by cultivation chemical companies produced Roundup to kill both unwanted grass and broad-leafed plants. Use of Roundup should be restricted, but it is not comparable to 2,4,5-T, agent orange.
+1 # Tippitc 2012-02-09 18:54
Good soil is very much alive with micro-organisms , necessary for growing nutritious, healthy crops. Cultivation may disrupt this living environment, but it does not destroy it like chemical herbicides do. A few applications of Round-Up and all you have left is DIRT - science lesson for the day!!
+6 # Todd Williams 2012-02-09 13:48
Monsanto - the gift of death that just keeps on giving! Talk about adding insult to injury. Vietnam should prohibit any dealings with Monsanto.
-6 # T4D 2012-02-09 18:46
Why am I not surprised there is no room for science in any discussion of agronomy.
+2 # KittatinyHawk 2012-02-09 20:02
Round up is worthless as weedkiller. It does get into groundwater with mass amount used can cause disease, death to aquatics(Biodiv ersity Group, Union of Concerned Scientists) There are thousands of cases throughout the USA of problems, lawsuits and revoking their license, They would then get rid of one chemical, add another to pretend they were doing something...peo ple believed because they wanted perfect lawns which are the stupidest things. Different story.
Monsanto then made Round Up that was horrific, it was used by Jaflo, Asplundh and others. It was for Commercial use only at sites for electric, cable etc. It went on blue, within an hour everything was dead...greens, insects, fish, birds and rodents. Got pictures but it was 'allowed' by DER..nice people who are to save the environment...R ape it more likely.
It killed the landscape for over 5 years. I had it, then someone working for company took it. I was going to expose Monsanto's round up with pictures, product.
Round up in Lowe's is a wus. You spend money and all you are doing is killing beneficial insects, birds perhaps exposing your kids and animals to Health Problems.
Farmers believe anything. Need that pesticide coating to keep bugs out, Gotta have that pesticide/herib icde coating to kill weeds. Not happening, the coating goes with rain, what do you have Bugs, bigger weeds. Gotta have it so it poisons groundwater and wells. Thanks EPA, FDA,
+1 # Todd Williams 2012-02-10 13:11
Dig it! I've been an organic gardener for years and also raise organic hens. I wouldn't let Roundup with 100 yards of my land. What you said is 100% factual. It's killing insects, birds and getting into the groundwater.

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