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Eyeing Landmark Verdict in Roundup Cancer Case, Vietnam Demands Monsanto Be Held Liable Over Agent Orange

"We believe Monsanto should be responsible for compensating Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange for the damages caused by the company's herbicides"

A man wears a shirt calling for justice for Agent Orange victims during the March Against Monsanto in San Francisco on May 23, 2015.

A man wears a shirt calling for justice for Agent Orange victims during the March Against Monsanto in San Francisco on May 23, 2015. (Photo: Peg Hunter/flickr/cc)

In the wake of a U.S. court ordering Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to man who says its weedkiller Roundup caused his cancer, Vietnam has called on the agrichemical giant to pay reparations to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

"This case is a precedent that rejects previous arguments that the herbicides supplied to the U.S. military by Monsanto and other U.S. chemical companies during the Vietnam War are not harmful to people's health," spokesperson for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Phuong Tra said to reporters last week.

"We believe Monsanto should be responsible for compensating Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange for the damages caused by the company's herbicides," she said.

Monsanto, now a unit of Bayer, was one of the manufacturers of Agent Orange. The U.S. dumped roughly 45 million liters of the notorious compound, which contained dioxin, on Vietnam during the war, unleashing "a slow-onset disaster whose devastating economic, health, and ecological impacts ... are still being felt today."  With its long-lasting impacts on the Vietnamese, as well as U.S. service-members, it's been called "one of the most tragic legacies of the war."  

Viet Nam News reported Sunday that the Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), which is working for justice on behalf of roughly 3 million Vietnamese affected by the chemical warfare, is also hopeful given the new verdict.

"No matter how difficult and prolonged this case might be, we won't ever give up on it, for the sake of the millions of Vietnamese victims," said Quách Thành Vinh, VAVA's chief of office and director of liaison lawyers office.

Former U.S. school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson, who's suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, secured his legal victory against Monsanto on Aug. 10. CNN reported that the ruling "could set a massive precedent for thousands of other cases claiming Monsanto's famous herbicide causes non-Hodgkin's lymphoma."

Monsanto has said it is appealing the verdict.

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