Operation Hades was developed by the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) as a scheme to defoliate guerilla controlled areas of Vietnam. Objectives of defoliation were to destroy the triple
canopy jungle that would flush out the guerilla fighter for conventional warfare, to clear the waterways and roads of areas of concealment for ambush, establish fields of fire around bases and to avoid infiltration and surprise attacks, and finally, to deny food to the enemy. The Vietnamese charged that defoliation was a weapon of mass destruction and ecocide that was not aimed at the fighter, but employed against the entire people and their environment, causing death by poisoning and starvation. C-147 aircraft sprayed 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D on 5,000 acres in 1962. In 1967 1.5 million acres of jungle and 221,000 acres of crop land were sprayed. Spraying ended in 1971 with 6 million acres covered with 107 million pounds of herbicide. About 10 to 15 percent of the total area sprayed was crop lands. Annual sales of herbicide increased from 12.5 million in 1966 to 79.8 million in 1969. Dow, Hercules, Monsanto, Diamond Shamrock, and seven other companies shared the war time profits. The name of the spray operation was changed to Operation Ranch Hand but the insignia patch retained the satanic symbol of a devil with a pitch fork.
During WWII the University of Chicago studied chlorophenols for their affact on plant metabolism. A small application will promote rapid growth while a larger dose will make the plant grow so fast it literally explodes and dies.
The special mixture of Agent Orange used in Vietnam consisted of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D in equal amounts. The mixture was thirteen times more concentrated than that used domestically. Agent White added Picloram which was made by DOW but so long lasting in the environment it was never allowed to be used on US soil. Agent Blue contained highly poisonous cacodylic acid and was 54 percent arsenic.
The affects of sraying 2500 acres and 1000 inhabitants were reported by a doctor in October 1964. "At first the people felt sick and had some diarrhea, then difficulty breathing followed by low blood pressure; some cases had trouble with their optic nerve and went blind. Prengant women gave birth to still born or premature children. Most of the affected cattle died from serious diarrhea, and river fish floated on the surface of the water belly-up, soon after the chemicals were spread."
Reports of human poisoning brought diplomatic pressure on the US from other nations to respond. The US State Dept. replied in March 1966 stating;"The herbicides used are non-toxic and not dangerous to man or animal life. The land is not affected for future use." The National Academy of Sciences received 80% of their money from the DOD and was considered an arm of the government, The elite organization determined that it was inconclusive wether Agent Orange caused human deaths ad that it was important that the matter receive further scrutiny in the future to determine the question. In response Professors Pfeiffer and Orians from the University of Washington independently obtained funding and did a field study on thei own in Vietnam at the height of the war. They reported on cases of illness in humans and animals living in sprayed areas, widespread ecological damage and permanent destruction of ancient forests, commercial timberlands and rubber tree cultures. In late 1969 the American Academy of Arts and scienced (AAAS) formed a committee headed up bu Mathew Meselson, a Harvard biologist with a mandate to study Agent Orange in Vietnam. Through their efforts LBJ received a petition with 5,000 signatures of scientsts urging him to stop spraying on the grounds of establishing a dangerous precedent in chemical and biological warfare. The Food and Drug Administration had finished a study in 1965 but the report was concealed. In 1969 the report was leaked to Meselson. It showed that in 1965, the prestigious Bionetics Research Laboratory tested industrial
compounds for carcinogenic and fetus deforming affects in lab animals.
The tests showed small doses of 2,4,5-T caused birth defects in rats and mice. The FDA, DOD and DOA
knew about the report but no one else saw it. DOW Chemical had applied pressure to the FDA to bury the report. The strategy that DOW Chemical used to combat the now public report was to claim that chemical impurities in the test batch were responsible for the alarming results. The contamination was an impurity produced during manufacture referred to as 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin, or simply Dioxin. The newly formed EPA issued a ban on the use of 2,3,5-T in the US and the military claimed they would use other agents for defoliation when available, then continued spraying Agent Orange. DOW claimed that Agent Orange normally contained none or a few parts per million of Dioxin. Domestic stocks tested at approx. 13 ppm Dioxin while the chemical used in Vietnam contained 47 ppm or higher. Scientific reports that showed evidence of harm were either ignored or actively supressed while studies that were inconclusive were used by the government to justify continued spraying. Dioxin is the most toxic man made chemical on earth. FDA researcher Dr. Jacqueline Verret proved that only 1 part per trillion was sufficient to cause deformity in embryos and id it were diluted one million times it would still be as toxic to a fetus as thalidomide, using the same tests. There is no safe dose of Dioxinm no matter how small. The agents 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D were shown to cause cancer in lab animals by themselves, without the dioxin present. DOW chemical agreed to a temporary halt in the use of 2,4,5-T but was fighting to protect the pervasive domestic use of 2,4-D.
DOW was able to go to court and succesfully fight the ban on 2,4,5-T and thus saved their lucrative sales in the AMerican market as well as worldwide sales of both herbicides. The burden of scientific proof was succesfully shifted from the manufacturer of the toxic chemicals onto the plaintiffs who were forced to prove conclusively that dioxin and the herbicides caused disease and mutation in humans. Studies funded by industry showed 2,4,5-T without dioxin was safe while independent studies such as the Bionetics study showed that "pure" 2,4,5-T without dioxin was mutagenic. The 1970 Meselson report carried the greatest weight in the scientific community because of it's thoroughness.' In one heavily sprayed province still births and miscarriages were disproportionately high. In Saigon there was an epidemic of spina bifida, a birth defect linked to Agent Orange. This prestigious report prompted congress in 1970 to fund a new study by the National Academy of Sciences which would be administered by the DOD. The result would again be inconclusive on the question of human illness and death.