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Children of Agent Orange by Vuorinen, Risto

Children of Agent Orange is a documentary about the long term environmental and especially health effects of the herbicides and defoliants used in the Vietnam War. Between 1961 and 1971 over 20 million gallons of these chemicals, nicknamed Agent Orange because of the color of the barrels it was shipped in, were sprayed over vast areas to destroy the Jungle the Viet Minh was hiding in. Decades and a few generations after the war, the Vietnamese people are still suffering from the effects of the spraying substance that contained high levels of dioxin. In some parts of the country the soil only supports the growth of sturdy grasses, the water is contaminated and children with severe birth defects are still being born. Is there any hope for the future?

Social Interest

The health effects of Agent Orange have had a big social impact on Vietnamese people. Children who are being born with defects mostly fully depend on care from their family. This makes it difficult for parents to earn enough money to get by. The massive scale on which children with birth defects are still being born affects local economy and even the development of Vietnam as a whole. Also the deformed children, as well as their family, suffer social stigmas isolating them in communities. Several Vietnamese organizations as well as US veteran initiatives try to battle the effects of the Agent Orange, providing aid to victims and to get recognized by the US government and chemical companies who caused this suffering.

Political Relevance

The US government and chemical companies like Monsanto, still deny that the birth defects are a result of the excessive use of Agent Orange in the War. The last few years many organizations like The Aspen Institute use research and lobbying to try to convince the US government to take their responsibility for the mess they caused in the Vietnam War. Especially since a clean up of all the harmful chemicals in Vietnam will only take 10 years and cost a fraction of the money used to clean up the BP oil spill in the gulf of Mexico.

Historic Interest

The Vietnam war, or as the Vietnamese call it: The American War, is an important historic war for several reasons. It started because of the cold war (the threat of the Communist North of Vietnam for the Capatalist South). Chemical warfare with planes was introduced, pro-war propaganda was used on a massive scale in the US, and it may have been the war with the most devastating effects on the long run, especially for the Vietnamese people. The documentary zooms in on these effects in Vietnam, but also shows the struggle of Vietnam war veterans who suffered from Agent Orange physically and/or psychologically.

Vuorinen, Risto
Copyright Holder
Java Films SARL
43 min.
Year of release

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