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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume. 34, Number 14. July 21, 1971

"An ecological equivalent of thalidomide"

"An ecological equivalent of thalidomide"

Finally, the vitally important question of the long-term impact of this chemical warfare on the genetic future of the Indochinese peoples has been ignored by the military men and their civilian advisers. Tests of defoliants by the American National Cancer Institute way back in 1966 "revealed that two of the herbicides examined has caused gross abnormalities and birth defects in mice. 2,4-D was termed 'potentially dangerous, but needing further study' while 2,4,5-T was labelled 'probably dangerous'". By 1969 South Vietnamese newspapers were carrying stories and pictures of deformed babies born in areas that had been subjected to spraying with 2,4,5-T (see Ngo Vinh Long, "Leaf Abscission?" in Bulletin for Concerned Asian Scholars, October 1969); by early 1970, however, steps were taken to restrict the use of 2,4,5-T in the USA. Meanwhile, the use of this chemical, "which may represent an ecological equivalent of thalidomide", continued in Indochina, the scale of the spraying programme being apparently limited only by the availability of the chemicals and of suitable aircraft. Commented two US newspapermen: "Not since the Romans salted the land after destroying Carthage has a nation taken pains to visit the war on future generations"(New York Post, 4 November 1969).