16/08/2018 09:34 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

US court ruling on Monsanto gives hope to Vietnam’s AO lawsuit

The recent ruling of a court in California, the US, on the link between weedkiller produced by Monsanto and cancer, has sparked hope for the lawsuit against the same company launched by Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.  

After a month-long trial, the US jury determined Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused cancer for Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old former groundskeeper, and that the corporation failed to warn him of the health hazards from exposure.

The US chemical group has for long been associated with the Agent Orange issue in Vietnam. It was one of the main suppliers of more than 80 million litres of herbicides that US troops sprayed over southern Vietnam from 1961-1971. Of the volume, 44 million litres were AO, containing nearly 370 kilograms of dioxin.

Around 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to the toxic chemical. As a consequence of exposure, many of the victims have died of numerous diseases, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases due to the chemical’s effects.

In 2004, Vietnamese AO/dioxin victims filed a lawsuit against 37 US firms, including Monsanto, for producing the chemical toxins sprayed by the US army. In 2009, an international court opened in France to deal with the AO matter and Vietnamese victims. However, both the US Government and sued companies refused to appear.

On April 18, 2017, The Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands found Monsanto is guilty of ecocide, which has left long-term consequences on the ecosystem of various nations, including Vietnam, after six months of investigation and two days of testimony. The US agrochemical giant, which specialises in manufacturing glyphosate – a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide (Roundup), rejected the ruling.

In an interview following the Roundup trial, the co-coordinator of the US-based Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign Merle Ratner said it was a historic verdict, which will have significant impacts on similar trials against Monsanto.

The fight would be long as Monsanto said it would appeal the verdict, she said but stressed that the ruling has greatly encouraged people who have been standing up to seek justice for the victims of its products.

Ratner said she will continue campaigning to urge the US Government and Congress to adopt measures in support of AO consequences alleviation in Vietnam, while pursuing legal procedures to make US chemical companies involved to accept their compensation duty.
VNA/VNP