By Len Aldis
Agent Orange Action Group
As you prepare to study the various resolutions for the coming annual general meeting of your company, being held in St Louis 24th January 2012, I ask you to take into consideration the history of your company and the policies you have supported at various annual general meetings.
It is a record that very few can be proud of. For example, can you as a shareholder be proud, even satisfied, that your company has been responsible for the deaths of many thousands of Vietnamese, many thousands of abnormal births in Vietnam, and today in Vietnam due to the product manufactured by your company, you have left four million Vietnamese suffering from various illnesses and deformities, and thousands of acres of once magnificent forests destroyed. The product was of course Agent Orange.
At the time you attend the shareholders meeting it will be fifty-one-years ago that Agent Orange was first sprayed over Southern areas of Vietnam, 10th August 1961. It is well recorded by international scientists and researchers from a number of countries – and includes the US – what the effects of Agent Orange has had on the people and land of Vietnam.
There has been and continues to be massive information about the effects of Agent Orange, and not only on the Vietnamese, ask the Vietnam Veterans from the US, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea, who served in Vietnam, for many of them were also affected by Agent Orange. Many of these veterans are still campaigning in their respective countries for their illnesses to be recognised by their Government as being related to Agent Orange. Yes, it is a fact that not all the US veterans have been accepted as suffering from Agent Orange. Many have died, as have others, denied a pension or compensation for serving their country.
Their relatives could be amongst the many outside the annual general meeting on 24th January seeking answers to the questions they want to raise with your Chairman Mr Hugh Grant and members of your board. You will see them when you walk into the meeting. Please do not avoid them, but stop and listen to their questions, and please answer if you can.
Let me remind you that eighty-million litres of Agent Orange was sprayed on Southern Vietnam and this was carried out over a period of ten-years. And your company has for these fifty-one years refused to accept responsibility and has also refused to make any compensation to the Vietnamese. The word Sorry has not come from the lips of your Chairman, not has one cent come from the $billions of profit made from Agent Orange indeed, it has been you the shareholder that has benefited, in the dividends you have received over the years.
Perhaps among you at the AGM will be Bill and Melinda Gates, it would be interesting to hear if they make any statement that they are satisfied with the record of your company, having purchased 500,000 shares. Perhaps they will seek to ask how they can help Monsanto in its campaign to increase its sales of GM Seeds world-wide, another Monsanto product that has cost the lives of thousands of Indian Farmers who were forced into debt through the failure of their GM crops. And outside the meeting will be American farmers who do not want GM Seeds but a number of them have been taken to court by your company to protect its sales and in turn its profits and your dividends. Are you really proud of your company, one that has cost so many lives, has ruined the lives of so many others in many countries?
I hope you will consider the content of this letter, written by a person who has travelled to Vietnam for the past twenty-years and has seen the horrors of the legacy your company Monsanto has left to the people and land.
In my years of travelling there I have seen babies, youngsters, teenagers and adults crippled and in many cases minus limbs, eyes etc through being affected by Agent Orange. Remember also this: the Vietnamese affected and aged under forty-years, would have been born after the spraying ended in 1971 and amongst them are the fourth generation. So the suffering continues, generation after generation after generation, that is the legacy your company has brought on the people of Vietnam.
So, when it comes to cast your votes, for who, and for what, will you vote?