The legacy of Agent Orange: What the Bay Area can do to help

Apr 25, 2011



Host: Joseph Pace

Producer: Yumi Wilson

The war in Vietnam ended more than 30 years ago, but the legacy of Agent Orange remains, both here in the United States and in Vietnam.

For a ten year period during the conflict, Agent Orange was used by the US to defoliate jungle areas that had provided both cover and sustenance for opposition forces. Containing a highly toxic chemical known as dioxin, agent orange has continued to impact the lives of those exposed more than 3 decades since spraying stopped. Last year alone, the Veterans Administration paid out nearly $2 billion in disability benefits related to Agent Orange to US Veterans. The same cannot be said for those affected in Vietnam where the Red Cross there, estimates that Agent Orange has affected some three million Vietnamese, including 150,000 children born with severe birth defects--a number that many worry could only increase unless highly contaminated ”hot spots” in that country are cleaned up.

A binational group of concerned public officials and private citizens from the US and Vietnam are calling for $300 million dollars in funding over the next ten years. They say these funds are needed to clean up and restore the land contaminated with dioxin and to help those who have been suffering its effects.

Tonight we’ll talk about the legacy of agent orange and the call to fund a definitive strategy to mitigate its effects.

Who is ultimately responsible for contributing to this effort?

How is the Asian American community here responding to this issue?

How is Agent Orange affecting the relationship between the US and Vietnam?

And what precedent will this experience set when it comes to addressing the aftermath of war?


  • De Tran, publisher and editor of VTimes, a Vietnamese-language newspaper in Silicon Valley and one of the first Vietnamese writers working in mainstream journalism in the United States. Tran was a staff writer at the San Jose Mercury News and the Los Angeles Times. He was born in Vietnam and came to the United States as a refugee in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. He studied journalism at San Francisco State University, where he was editor of Prism Magazine.
  • Kelvin Vuong, a program director at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy or (AAPIP) a San Francisco based national membership association of foundations, staff and trustees of grantmaking institutions, and representatives of non-profit organizations.
  • Charles Bailey, through the Ford Foundation, he focuses his time on resolving the lingering problems related to dioxin-contaminated herbicides used during the Vietnam War. Bailey has a PhD in agricultural economics from Cornell University and a master's degree in public policy from Princeton University.