Regarding the Conference in General
During the last decade of his life, my father, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr., strongly advocated that impartial studies be conducted as to the effects Agent Orange have on health and the environment.
As a father who lost a son to Agent Orange-related cancers, as a military commander who ordered the spraying of the chemical during the Vietnam War, as a humanitarian concerned that other victims of exposure know the truth about the chemical's effects, he dedicated himself to ensuring those studies upon which science and the medical community relied were the result of good, solid, independent research. He realized it was only by the conduct of such research that one could gain insights into the real health and environmental impact of Agent Orange, leading to a better understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship.
His own pro bono study on the chemical defoliant helped change the U.S. government's position on compensation for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange-related illnesses. Were he alive today, he would be among the first to enthusiastically endorse an international conference on the long-term environmental consequences of the Vietnam War to ensure the environmental lessons of that conflict are learned-- and never forgotten.
James G. Zumwalt, Vice President
Admiral Zumwalt & Consultants, Inc.
Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
I welcome the forthcoming conference in Stockholm, which I believe is the first international non-governmental event of its kind. I trust that it will yield practical, scientific and humanitarian results that will help some of the one million Vietnamese who have been adversely affected by Agent Orange.
There have been many scientific conferences on that issue. But the facts are very clear. Only the unobservant can doubt that the dioxin in Agent Orange is harmful to human health and the environment. It is both counterproductive and insensitive to human suffering to simply conduct more research without providing any assistance to the victims who are now experiencing so many difficulties in life. Right Action is the proper scientific attitude for human beings.
The door on the past only can be closed and reconciliation is only possible if those responsible squarely face the reality and deal with the consequences of dioxin in Vietnam, today-- not tomorrow, or next year or some other year.
The Vietnam Red Cross Society has been supported by the International Red Cross movement, including the American Red Cross and other national societies, as well as many other organizations, nations and individuals from all over the world. All of them strongly support our point of view and our efforts to assist the victims of Agent Orange.
It is my hope and belief that the Vietnam Environmental Conference will deal with this issue and related matters in a spirit of impartiality, while respecting the humanitarian principles on which the Red Cross movement is based.
Prof. Nguyen Trong Nhan
President, Vietnam Red Cross
Chairman, Agent Orange Victims Fund
I flew cargo planes in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand during 1970-71. I saw large areas of southern Vietnam, and the results of the massive carpet-bombing in eastern Cambodia. The damage to the landscape was one of the most difficult things for me to take in. I simply could not justify it, and this led to my declaring conscientious objection in 1972, becoming active with the Vietnam Veterans against the War.
My own healing was a long and difficult process. I eventually became a nurse in the area of oncology, and have seen both U.S. veterans and Vietnamese with leukaemia, lymphomas, and also head-and-neck and pharyngeal cancers.
Your work is appreciated.
James Willingham, R.N.
St. Petersburg, Florida, U.S.A.
I strongly endorse the proposed conference for several reasons:
o It will discuss the effects of Agent Orange on ecosystems, public health and economic activity, all of which has crucial significance for the victims of dioxin poisoning in my country.
o As the dioxin from Agent Orange is the subject of scientific research within many different areas ( chemistry, biology, medicine, physics, etc.) an international conference combining the various perspectives would be very valuable.
o As a medical doctor in a hospital located in one of the affected areas during the war, I personally witnessed the spraying of Agent Orange. Following the war, I have worked on the dioxin issue for many years in co-operation with colleagues from Canada, the United States, France and Japan. We have had many exchanges of thought on dioxin-related issues, which might be regarded as international conferences on a small scale. But the international conference proposed for the spring of 2002 promises to be much more comprehensive and systematic, and I therefore endorse it wholeheartedly.
Hoang Trong Quynh, M.D., Ph.D.; Vice-Director of
Center for Ecologically Sustainable Agriculture (CENESA)
Thank you for the invitation to endorse the suggestion for an international conference on the long-term environmental effects of the war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. I am delighted to endorse such a proposal.
The war in these three countries had devastating effects both on the environment and on the health and welfare of the people. Huge problems remain and the environmental damage in Vietnam, in particular, either has not or cannot be made good in many areas. There are many issues to consider, including what help to offer now, and what lessons to draw for the future.
There also remain unresolved issues concerning the effects on the health of the people due to the use of chemical agents as defoliants and crop-destroying agents. An international conference which considered these matters together with the broader environmental issues would be extremely valuable.
I also feel that it would be valuable to consider the effects on both the environment and the people of the Gulf War in 1991. The environmental destruction following that war was considerable, and provides valuable parallels with what happened in Southeast Asia.
Alastair W.M. Hay
Dept. of Chemical Pathology
University of Leeds, England
It is with great pleasure that I endorse the initiative for an international conference on the long-term environmental effects of the American War. It is an issue of personal interest to me, as I have had the opportunity to conduct research on the effects of the war, especially those relating to the use of herbicides for many years. I believe that the conference will provide the best opportunity for researchers around the world to discuss the issues openly.
Prof. Vo Quy, President
Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Studies (CRES)
National University of Vietnam, Hanoi
Although it has been over 25 years since the formal conclusion of the Vietnam War, its lingering environmental effects are still being felt today. To cite but one example, there has been virtually no recovery in the upland forests that were defoliated by Agent Orange between 1965-1971. Reduced biodiversity of wildlife and forests, soil erosion, unproductive land, and other effects of the war continue to plague the people of Vietnam and condemn many to an unbroken cycle of poverty and economic hardship.
Residual contaminants in ecosystems and the presence of unexploded war materiel contribute to widespread public health problems. Measurable residues of dioxin, a contaminant of Agent Orange, are still present in the environment and in the human population. In short, the natural and human environment for a great many Vietnamese is one of poverty and despair.
It is vital for the international community to be made aware of the continuing consequences of the Vietnam War, as well as the scientific work necessary for a thorough understanding of the environmental impact and for the development of appropriate corrective measures. Environmental mitigation measures developed in Vietnam will also be of value in other parts of the world that have suffered, or may in the future suffer, similar environmental traumas.
The conference proposed for Stockholm in 2002 will greatly contribute to increased international awareness of these issues, and will hopefully lead to meaningful efforts to alleviate environmental damage in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other war-torn countries.
L. Wayne Dwernychuk,Vice-President & Principal
David A. Levy, Vice President & Senior Scientist
Hatfield Consultants Ltd.
West Vancouver, Canada
I gladly endorse the proposed conference.
Project Manager, International Dept.
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency
As Vietnam enters the 21st century, there are still daily reminders of the U.S. war in Indochina, many of them haunting. Such reminders are very evident in the A Luoi valley, where a third of children appear to be suffering from the long-term health effects of Agent Orange. In the long valley with its stark denuded skyline, most of the forests have still not recovered from the carpet-bombing, napalming, and the spraying with one of the world's most toxic herbicides. How long will it take to clear the estimated 300,000 tonnes of explosives that remain throughout the land, most of them hidden from view? The Vietnamese estimate that, since 1975, some 38,000 people have been killed and 64,000 injured by mines and bombs. The Vietnamese people want to put the war behind them and the proposed conference should help them to build a healthier, more hopeful future.
Scientific & Technical Adviser to the Institute of Geography,
University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Representing the Swedish Red Cross, and as a member of a worldwide humanitarian organisation, I am pleased to endorse the proposed conference and its objectives. In our contacts with the Red Cross of Vietnam, we have learnt about the severe consequences of dioxin contamination on already vulnerable people.
At the request of the Government of Vietnam, the Red Cross of Vietnam has established an Agent Orange Fund and has initiated a special programme to assist disabled people including those who are believed to be affected by Agent Orange. Any effort to raise awareness and increase knowledge of the environmental consequences of the Vietnam War is highly commendable.
Programme Co-ordinator for Southeast and East Asia
Swedish Red Cross
Thirty years have now passed since the United States stopped spreading the herbicide, Agent Orange, over southern Vietnam. The spraying mixture was contaminated with a type of dioxin known as TCDD, one of the most toxic chemicals ever manufactured. TCDD can give rise to a number of health problems and, since 1997, has been classed by the World Health Organization as a carcinogenic for all types of cancer in humans. There is an urgent need to gather and interpret all available information on the toxic effects of TCDD; the same applies to the long-term ecological, health, social and economic problems that may have resulted from the spraying of Agent Orange. The proposed conference should be able to make a valuable contribution in this regard.
Lennart Hardell, M.D., Ph.D.
Assoc. Prof., Department of Oncology
Örebro Medical Center, Sweden
I am certainly pleased to be able to support the notion of such an event as the proposed conference. It would be a most valuable means of exploring the long-term effects of the military disruption of the environment, dwelling-- as you suggest-- on the interrelated long-term effects on ecosystems, public health, and the economy.
Dr Arthur H. Westing
Forest ecologist, U.S.A.
Author of Ecological Consequences of the Second Indochina War
and related works
I am pleased to hear of the proposed conference and endorse it fully. As a former U.S. Marine, having served in the Persian Gulf War, I have personally witnessed the wrath of ecological warfare. I remember the midnight glow of burning oil fields. I would awake with specks of oil on my clothing, puddles of rainwater black as ink, and the black smudge that would fill my nostrils. I remember the destruction of Kuwait City and the barbed wire and steel obstructions that littered the beaches.
In June, 2000 I chose to backpack across Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi. I toured the former demilitarized zone to see the 25-year aftermath of the American War. I also spent four days camping in the Vu Quang Forest. I discovered a country that still suffers, and a country that has few remaining natural recourses, that harbors a bountiful diversity not yet described. Unfortunately I also saw many logging trucks, presumably coming from Laos, crossing through the east-west road that passes through the Vu Quang Forest. There is a sense of urgency to assist Vietnam to rebuild, preserve and create sustainable resources.
As a Ph.D. student at the University of Southern California, Department of Science Education, I have a keen interest in conservation education and sustainable communities. I fully endorse the proposed conference and would be honored to contribute.
Department of Science Education
University of Southern California, U.S.A.
I would like to endorse the Vietnam Environmental Conference. I am actively working in Vietnam, and appreciate your efforts to raise awareness and understanding.
Myles F. Elledge
Center for International Development
Research Triangle Institute (RTI)
North Carolina, U.S.A.
On behalf of Swedish Engineers for Sustainable Development, I would like to endorse the Conference on Long-term Environmental Consequences of Vietnam War.
Det Naturliga Steget
Just seeing the names on the list of endorsers was a great homecoming for me. As the former Director of the Massachusetts Agent Orange Program (1985-1989) I salute you and wholeheartedly endorse the upcoming Vietnam Environmental Conference.
As an American veteran of the late U.S. War in Vietnam during '68-'69, I know from first-hand experience that the long term ecological effects of chemical-biological warfare used by our side against Vietnam needs to be studied and documented by the international scientific community.
The Massachusetts Agent Orange Program, under the scientific and medical supervision of Dr. John Constable and Dr. Arnold Schecter was one of the first to conduct health studies on veterans thought to be exposed to 2,3,7,8 TCDD. Its studies helped to prove that the half-life of TCDD was, indeed, greater then three months. Subsequently, our program co-operated very closely with Vietnam's 10-80 Committee and corroborated the finding of a biological footprint of dioxin in the human body in both adipose (lipid) and serum sampling of Americans documented to have been exposed to Agent Orange.
How can I ever forget the first visit my Bac Si Tong That Tung of Vietnam to Boston during the cold freeze in post-war relations between former enemies? Politics was laid aside, as everyone involved sought to assist the victims on both sides who suffered from these terrible times of war. The Massachusetts Agent Orange Program was a pioneer in becoming partners and friends of Vietnamese and international scientists concerned with both the short-term and long-term effects of dioxin on human health.
I look forward to meeting both old friends and new ones in Stockholm! Good Luck and Godspeed!
Joseph V. Bangert, M Ed.
Brewster, Massachussetts, U.S.A.
Both the Danang/Quang Nam Fund, Inc. and the SUNY Brockport Vietnam Program are pleased to endorse the proposed conference.
Prof. Kenneth J. Herrmann, Jr.
Director, SUNY Brockport Vietnam Program
Executive Director, The Danang/Quang Nam Fund, Inc.
New York, U.S.A.
Regarding the Conference Declaration
The chemical companies that manufactured Agent Orange should be held responsible for its deadly impact on the environment and people of Indochina. Much time has passed since the chemicals were sprayed, but the consequences persist. It is high time for the United States and the international community provide humanitarian assistance and health care to the peoples of the affected countries. (I am myself working to develop a medical and research center in Vietnam.) I feel that the U.N. Security Council should endorse the Stockholm Declaration and, in the interest of all mankind, act to assist Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Thomas R. Joyce
Retired due to service-related disability (Agent Orange)
The effects of herbicides such as Agent Orange are long-lasting and a hazard to all living things in the affected areas. For all of us who care about our fellow humans, the Stockholm Declaration indicates what kinds of measures need to be taken.
Educational consultant, former head teacher
The poor people in the three countries have suffered for many years as a result of the wars fought there. Herbicides such as Agent Orange are known to have caused great damage.
The United States should be called upon to take direct responsibility for reducing the long-term health and environmental consequences of the arms that it used against Vietnam between 1965 and 1975.
Richard B. Du Boff
Professor Emeritus of Economics. Bryn Mawr College
I believe that the use of Agent Orange was essentially a form of chemical warfare and that the United States should lead the way (including financing) in taking any measures that might help to clean up the environment.
Professor Emeritus of Botany
University of British Columbia
The war in Indochina remains the great submerged fault line in the American psyche and politics. Few Americans, and even fewer of their leaders, are willing to confront the truth of what we did there, and the resulting self-deception has become ever more convoluted and impacted, radiating fissures of false-consciousness into almost every aspect of American life, and foisting it on a new generation. We will never become reconciled with ourselves and whole again as a people, or ever develop an authentic politics, until our government formally acknowledges the full extent of the mayhem and devastation it wrought in Indochina, takes moral responsibility for it, and pays massive reparations, including the direct in-kind, on-the-ground assistance advocated by the Declaration. Please alert me to ways in which I might be able to assist in this effort.
Christopher Eliot Paine
Natural Resources Defense Council
I fully support the Stockholm Declaration. In view of the imminent danger of yet another war, this time against Iraq, I feel that it is extremely important to disseminate information about the disastrous long-term consequences of warfare on the environment and on the health and well-being of present and future generations.
Stefan de Vylder, Ph.D.
I am pleased to be included among endorsers of the Stockholm Declaration. The inclusion of all three countries in the Declaration focuses needed attention on Laos and Cambodia, in addition to Vietnam.
International development specialist
Let's work for implementation of the recommendations of the Declaration in as many practical ways as possible, starting now!
Secondary school teacher
I gladly endorse the Declaration, which is a very significant document. It is important that the world not forget the vast and serious consequences of the United States' warfare in Indochina.
John Sune Carlson
TV producer (ret.)
As we would in the United States, we should remediate the hot-spot superfund sites containing current high levels of dioxin contamination. Most of these sites are former bases of the United States and its southern Vietnamese allies. As we do for U.S. veterans of the war, we should address the problems of cancer and birth defects among the Vietnamese.
International Affairs Representative
American Friends Service Committee
I hereby endorse the Stockholm Declaration adopted by the Environmental Conference on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in July 2002.
Public health consultant
I believe that the United States must be held responsible for the devastation it enacts. Perhaps then it will be less likely to enact more.
Reverend Judy Deutsch
Unitarian Universalist Minister Emerita
To use Agent Orange and other toxins was a crime in itself. To deny the continuing damage caused by Agent Orange and other toxins used by the United States is yet another crime.
Ph.D. candidate, social anthropology
In addition to the health effects of dioxins, the widespread ecocide continues to affect the productivity of living resources in the areas that were sprayed during the war. The majority of Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese are rural people who previously enjoyed a subsistence way of life. Now, they can no longer can make such a living. They need technical assistance to find new forms of sustainable production.
Bui Thi Lang