A national symposium was held in Hanoi on March 12 seeking to fortify legal grounds to demand the US government and chemical companies take responsibility for the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin sprayed on Vietnam during wartime.

Hosted by the Institute of State and Law of the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, the event brought together local scientists and those who had taken part in the lawsuit filed by Vietnamese AO victims in the US.

Scientists touched upon the correlation between Agent Orange, which contains toxic dioxin, and the diseases suffered by its victims.

They also explored issues relating to product responsibilities held by government contractors and legal responsibilities of the US in using the chemical during its war in Vietnam.

The scientists sought to study the legal grounds that helped Korean veterans receive compensation for their exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin during the US war in Vietnam as well as cooperation with foreign scientists and organisations researching the issue.

Professor Nong Van Hai from the Genetic Technology Institute said Vietnamese AO victims’ unfinished lawsuit lodged in the US is an initial success in efforts to raise public consciousness on the long-lasting impacts of Agent Orange on people and the environment.

According to the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), US troops sprayed 80 million litres of the chemical, which contained almost 400kg of toxic dioxin, on Vietnam’s southern battlefields during a 10-year period beginning on August 10, 1961.

Preliminary statistics by Vietnamese scientists indicates about 3 million Vietnamese people were exposed to dioxin, while data collected by US scientists at Columbia University shows that the number is anywhere between 2.1 - 4.8 million. The toxic chemical is still impacting Vietnam’s filial generations today.-VNA