Agent Orange: It’s Affecting Veterans and Their Kids

The number of Vietnam veterans affected by the chemical Agent Orange is astonishing.

Roughly 300-thousand veterans have died from Agent Orange exposure — that’s almost five times as many as the 58-thousand who died in combat.

“Did it save lives? No doubt. Over there it did, but nobody knew it was going to be taking them later,” said Dan Stenvold, President of the North Dakota branch of the VVA.

The Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) define Agent Orange as a highly toxic herbicide used by the U.S. military to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War.

“You know we killed the jungle with back packs, sprayed so we had a good perimeter,” said Stenvold.

According to Stenvold, one tablespoon of Agent Orange in the drinking water of Los Angeles would kill the entire city.

That toxicity is coming back to haunt veterans and it’s also affecting their children…

“Well my dad was a Vietnam veteran, my brother has brain cancer believed to be caused by Agent Orange passed through my father,” said Ashely Busby, daughter of a Vietnam Vet.

…And their children’s children.

“Our daughters that can’t have children, there’s a lot of them. I was telling Ashley I know of at least 70 in North Dakota alone where the daughters can’t have kids,” said Stenvold.

11 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed in Vietnam over 20 million acres, putting three million Vietnam veterans and their families at risk.

“It’s an everyday question kind of, you know, what’s passed on, what’s not passed on,” said Busby.

Stenvold did three tours in Vietnam and in 2002 he was diagnosed with diabetes linked to Agent Orange.

Since then he says he’s made a vow to raise awareness.

Two years ago, the VVA received 50 thousand dollars from the state to do just that.

“It’s amazing how many Vietnam veterans don’t know about it and you know it’s really opened the eyes, I gotta thank the North Dakota legislature because two years ago they had enough faith in us to go out and do what we’re doing and it’s working,” said Stenvold.

There are about 50 diseases connected agent orange exposure and nearly 20 birth defects recognized in the children of Vietnam veterans.

“I had a close friend who died a five years ago from lymphoma and he’s laying in Minot, he’s from Minot, dying and he says, “you know we all took a bullet over there, some of us just didn’t know it. We’re all going to die from it, eventually, or a lot of us will,” said Stenvold.

Mcneilus steel in Fargo made history as the first corporation in North Dakota to donate money to the VVA.

The employees and the company gave a total of $1,500 dollars to this cause.–296824751.html

GMOs Proven Harmful To Human Health

Do you ever wonder why “pro gmo” people simply refuse to acknowledge the science?  The truth is, we don’t know enough about GMOs to deem them safe for human consumption. Believe it or not the very first commercial sale of them was only twenty years ago. There is no possible way that our health authorities can test all possible combinations on a large enough population, over a long enough period of time to be able to say with absolute certainty that they are harmless.

“GM Crop Production is Lowering US Yields and Increasing Pesticide Use…There is no reason GM foods should be approved safe for consumption, we just don’t know enough about them. We could easily feed the planet through organic, GMO-free methods, so there is absolutely no reason we need GM foods around… the current approval of glyphosate and Roundup is deeply flawed and unreliable…Because humans that’ve been exposed to glyphosate have a drop in amino acid tryptophan levels, they do not have the necessary active signalling of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is associated with weight gain, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.“

GMOs Prove Harmful To Humans In These Ten Scientific Studies :

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The Legacy of Agent Orange

James Rhodes, 65, grew up in Alabama and went on to play trombone in the Troy University band. He was drafted into the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War in 1969. He went on search and rescue missions, and somewhere during his time in country, was exposed to Agent Orange, the pesticide deployed by the U.S. government, which has in subsequent years been shown by various studies to have caused lingering health problems for service members and civilians. He was honorably discharged from medical complications he traces to his exposure to the toxic chemical.

Agent Orange, manufactured by Monsanto and Dow, was used by American – authorized by President John F. Kennedy as Operation Ranch Hand in 1961 — and South Vietnamese forces to destroy crops and defoliate the trees and bushes of the North Vietnamese enemy.

Rhodes, who now divides his time between Alabaster and Vietnam, has written a book about his experience in the war and in dealing with the after-effects of Agent Orange. The book, Diary of a Former Enemy, is published only in Vietnamese, and proceeds from its sale go to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

Rhodes shared a little history with Weld for this interview.

Weld: What is the book about?  

James Rhodes: My war and Agent Orange experience, written as therapy. … My Veteran’s Administration therapist, years ago, suggested I do this, but I don’t think they ever thought it would actually go to print and be a bestseller. Who knew?

Weld: So, what happened to you in the war? What was the effect of Agent Orange on you?

JR: Have had 14 “growths” cut out of me — none by the US government. … [I became a] participant in the Agent Orange legal action where veterans got shafted by lawyers. … I was at the high end of the scale; I got $6,000 — that is, $1,000 [per] year for six years — while the lawyers got millions.

Weld: How did you come to be in Vietnam?

JR: I went to Vietnam because my name was not George Bush and I could not hide out in the Alabama National Guard; my name was not Bill Clinton and I could not protest; … my name was not Dick Cheney and I could not claim to be 4-F; and I was not skilled enough to flee to Canada and be pardoned by President Carter!

The USAF [recruiter] promised me I would be in the band. Ended up as a crew chief on a search and rescue team.

Weld: What is your relationship with the country of Vietnam today?

JR: I love Vietnam. The people have been great to us. They actually saved my life, as I could not get treatment for any of my Agent Orange conditions in this country. The Vietnamese had pity and compassion for me. They treated me as a long-lost relative. They are better Christians than any preacher you will meet in this country. Being around poor farmers whose only goal in life is to make Buddha, Jesus, or Baha’u’llah proud puts life in its correct focus, I think. We [he and wife Nina Avina-Rhodes] spend a great deal of time in the Hanoi area.

We attempt to spend three-to-six months a year there. When I am there I teach at the university where the U.S. State Department sent me in 2011 — the National Academy of Journalism and Communication in Hanoi. I spent all of 2009 in Hanoi.

Weld: What is your background?

JR: I was a Fulbright educator at Hoc Vien Bao Chi Va Tuyen Truyen (the National Academy of Journalism and Communication). The students are great; the staff and administration are great; public transportation is cheap and they have socialized medicine because, unlike here, people don’t object to paying taxes as long as it benefits others.

Working with the Vietnamese has been great therapy for me and a tremendous religious experience. I have gotten to know, as serious personal friends, people at Vietnam Television International; Voice of Vietnam; Vietnam News Agency; Bao Dien Tu (the government’s online daily); and Quan Doi Nhan Dan (the Army online daily). I have worked for the Vietnamese government at Vietnam Television International, Bao Dien Tu and Quan Doi Nhan Dan.

Weld: Tell us a little about your family.

JR: Dad “Dusty” Rhodes (Navy WWII vet) of Matthews, Alabama; MVP 1954 World Series. Brother David Ronald Rhodes (Wetumpka), 22 years USAF and Army, misdiagnosed after his military [service], which resulted in his untimely death years ago.

Weld: Can you please elaborate?

JR: He had five cancers that went undetected until they killed him. How in hell does this happen?

Weld: Where is the book being released?

JR: Released last month, only in Vietnam, with all my proceeds going to Vietnamese victims of herbicidal poisons — they’re fourth-generation now.

Do note that New Jersey veteran George Mizo was wounded in combat, sent to Japan for mending and returned to combat. He was then wounded a second time and sent to Japan to mend and also returned to combat. After the third time, he refused to go back to Vietnam and was given a less than honorable discharge — something Bush, Clinton and Cheney did not have to worry about.

He founded, with his German wife, an American 501(c)3 organization to assist the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange after the war ended. That facility still exists today in Hanoi. It is the Friendship Village. Shortly after its completion, Mizo died of an Agent Orange-related illness. He is my hero, as are all the people who look after these unfortunates.

Some funds [from the book] go to the Friendship Village. Some go to other facilities, of which there are many, as there are many victims countrywide.


Agent Orange to Farm to Table

 With genetically engineered corn and soy, Dow Chemical aims to bring back toxic herbicide use, big time

While my sister-in-law put the finishing touches on Thanksgiving dinner, I listened to her friend recount the losing battle her husband, a Vietnam veteran, fought with lung cancer. She explained her husband’s illness was caused by his wartime exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange, produced primarily by two companies, Dow Chemical and Monsanto. Named for the colored band on its transport tanks, Agent Orange was a cocktail of chemicals, including an herbicide called 2,4-D. Shortly after the spraying — conducted to deprive guerrilla fighters of cover and a food supply — started in 1962, reports began to emerge of serious health effects, from birth defects to other illnesses. To this day, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offers an Agent Orange registry health exam for the possible long-term problems caused by exposure, and more than 40,000 veterans have submitted disability claims. The Red Cross estimates that 1 million Vietnamese were affected, including third-generation children born with severe birth defects.

In January the U.S. Department of Agriculture opened a public comment period on the environmental and health impacts of a new suite of crops engineered to be resistant to 2,4-D. These corn and soybean plants, produced by Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, would be the first developed to be resistant to the herbicide.

According to experts, the introduction of these new crops could cause 2,4-D use to jump, big time. Chuck Benbrook, a pesticide policy expert with the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, has estimated that if it’s approved, the engineered corn could cause applications of 2,4-D to jump 20-fold by 2019.

That’s particularly concerning because experts have long shown that 2,4-D causes serious harm to humans, especially when used over vast swaths of farmland and lawns. Largely because of such concern, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to revoke the chemical’s approval, first granted in 1948.

NRDC researchers and other critics of 2,4-D point to studies showing the chemical is a neurotoxin and that exposure to it can cause hormone disruption, certain forms of cancer and genetic mutations. The chemical has also been linked to lowered sperm counts, liver disease and Parkinson’s disease as well as adverse effects on reproductive and immune systems. What’s further worrisome is that 2,4-D is known to drift, affecting areas near farms, including streams, rivers and wildlife.

In April 2012 the EPA rejected the NRDC’s petition, stating that the group did not prove that the chemical was unsafe in the manner it is used. Despite the EPA’s actions, public health advocates have maintained that there are serious human health impacts, based on compelling evidence from peer-reviewed studies around the world. A University of Minnesota study found a greater frequency of genetic mutations in pesticide applicators who had higher rates of 2,4-D in their urine. A National Cancer Institute study found farmers exposed to 2,4-D upward of 20 days a year had a higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma than nonfarmers did, by a factor of six. The EPA’s fact sheet notes that the chemical has shown toxic effects on the thyroid and gonads and expresses concern about potential “endocrine-disrupting effects.”

With all these risks, why are chemical companies like Dow and Monsanto formulating seeds to be resistant to this decades-old chemical with a terrible health track record? The USDA said these new crops are intended to “help address the problem of weeds that have developed resistance to other herbicides.”

The real motivation for introducing new herbicide-resistant seeds is Monsanto’s and Dow’s bottom lines; it is one of the best ways to boost sales of chemicals. 

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