In 1961, as part of America’s escalating war of counterinsurgency in Vietnam, President Kennedy approved a military plan to use defoliants and herbicide in South East Asia. Operation “Ranch Hand” was intended to kill foliage and destroy crops, depriving the Viet Cong of cover and supplies during the conflict. It is estimated that 76,000,000 litres of chemicals were sprayed between 1962 and 1971 over rural areas of South Vietnam and, later, in parts of Cambodia and Laos.
At the time the American government, under the Defence Production Act, compelled a number of companies to produce Agent Orange for the ongoing conflict in South East Asia. However, most people are only aware of one company who made this herbicide during this period – Monsanto. The companies reputation has been so badly tarnished from their involvement in the Vietnam war that now any field of research they are associated with is met with blind animosity and somehow linked to Agent Orange. For example, today, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have almost become synonymous with Monsanto, despite the company being only one in a sea of thousands who produce them.
My hope with this series of videos is to try and convince you, the viewer, that the company Monsanto, the Herbicide Agent Orange, and GMOs are all separate and not interchangeable. I also plan to point out parallels between the history of Agent Orange, leading up to it inevitably being accepted as a carcinogen and teratogen, and GMOs, to try and better understand why some people are so vehemently opposed to them.