Agent Orange

Bitter Fruit: Agent Orange’s Legacy

David Dare Parker

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. September 2010.

Two generations after the end of the Vietnam War, the legacy of Agent Orange still takes its toll. April 30 marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the war, and while the two counties have made strides to repair relations, the scars caused by the notorious defoliant are still raw.

The Americans sprayed some 20 million gallons of herbicides in Vietnam during the height of the war, exposing solders and Vietnamese civilians alike to the powerful toxin. Former GIs in the U.S. suffer cancers directly tied to exposure to Agent Orange and dioxin, and in Vietnam the suffering has been passed down through the generations, where exposure to the poisons is suspected of being tied to an increase in the number of children born with Fraser Syndrome.

A rare disorder, Fraser Syndrome is characterized by malformed eyes that are completely covered by skin, the fusion of the skin between the fingers and toes, and other abnormalities. Most children afflicted with it die just before or just after birth, though many Vietnamese have survived, to be cared for at the Tu Du Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

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After 40 years, Agent Orange chemicals used in Vietnam War still leave a devastating mark