By Len Aldis
Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society
In addressing you today, I wish to draw your attention to the background of Monsanto, a company whose name and products are held in contempt not only within the United States, but also in every country where it has offices, its products sold and used. The reason for the contempt goes back to the United States War on Vietnam, in particular August 10th 1961 when the first use of the herbicide Agent Orange began.
President Roosevelt speaking of the attack on Pearl Harbour December 7th 1941 stated, “It will be a day that will live in infamy”.
So, too, friends, will August 10th 1961, for on that day began the spraying of 80 million litres of Agent Orange – manufactured by your company along with others. The spraying was to continue for ten years. I ask you to imagine every day for ten years a Vietnamese Pearl Harbour. The loss of life on that day in 1941 was indeed tragic, but consider the loss of life over ten-years, and the millions born years after the war ended in 1975 crippled in mind and body due to Agent Orange.
Today in Vietnam there are over three million victims suffering from the effects of Agent Orange, and the company you work for Monsanto, is one of those responsible.
Hugh Grant who holds the positions of President, Chairman, and Chief Executive of your company was just three years of age when the spraying began and 13 years old when it stopped. So we cannot blame him then. But, on reaching the age of 23 in 1981 – six-years after the Vietnam War ended, Hugh Grant joined Monsanto, and would have known the history of the company and its products including Agent Orange, its use on Vietnam and the effect on the people and land.
When he became President, Chairman and CEO, if he did not know of Agent Orange and its use, then he is unfit to remain with the company. Shamefully, Monsanto’s public relation office to this very day continues to deny any responsibility for the illnesses and deformities that Agent Orange has caused to the people of Vietnam. Nor have they made any financial compensation to the victims. Yet the evidence is plain to see if Hugh Grant or the people who write these denials were to visit the victims in the hospitals, clinics, or in their homes as I have done many times indeed. The offices of Monsanto and Dow Chemicals – another company responsible for Agent Orange – are just a ten-minute car ride away from the Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.
In my visits to these offices I have asked that the director or manager visit or come with me to the Tu Du Hospital. Each time they have refused. Instead they give me a statement that denies all responsibility.
But Hugh Grant and/or his board members do not have to go to Vietnam to see some of the victims of Agent Orange; they can seen in many cities of the United States, for those who served in Vietnam were also affected and are suffering from the same illnesses and disabilities that the Vietnamese have. Many, again like the Vietnamese victims, have died as a result of Agent Orange.
Friends, next year, 2011, will see the 50th anniversary of the spraying of Agent Orange on Vietnam. Remember the date 10th August. It will be a day when millions in Vietnam and its friends in many countries around the world will commemorate as a day of infamy.
Tomorrow, as you walk through the gates of your company Monsanto, I ask you to remember the deaths and disabilities that Agent Orange has caused, especially to the many thousands of innocent children who died in their mother’s womb, and those who survived born with deformities and ask yourself: Why am I working for such a company as MONSANTO?