sarin gas–its origin; dioxin in great depth


Dow is well versed in poisons and chemical methods of causing death. When Nazi war criminal Otto Ambros, convicted of crimes against humanity for automating Zyklon-B production at Auschwitz, was released from prison, Dow snapped him up. In the Vietnam War they found ample uses for their expertise, both with napalm and Agent Orange.

A US army source, talking about napalm, reported, ‘We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow. The original product wasn’t so hot – if the gooks were quick they could scrape it off. So the boys started adding polystyrene – now it sticks like shit to a blanket. But if the gooks jumped under water it stopped burning, so they started adding Willie Peter (white phosphorus) so’s to make it burn better. And just one drop is enough, it’ll keep on burning right down to the bone so they die anyway from phosphorus poisoning.’

Agent Orange was one of a number of colour-coded herbicides designed to strip jungle trees of their leaves, thus denying cover to North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops. But the Agent Orange herbicide Dow produced was contaminated with dioxin, which brought death and deformity not only to military enemies, but to civilians and their children, and US troops and their children. Spraying of Agent Orange began in 1962, and in 1965 some 42 percent of all herbicide spraying was aimed at food crops, a deliberate act of chemical warfare.

A private Dow memo dated February 22, 1965 reveals that Dow had discovered that Agent Orange was not just a herbicide, but contained deadly dioxins that would kill people*, including US troops who were exposed to it – thus to use Agent Orange would be to wage chemical warfare. But it did not share this knowledge with the US military lest the lucrative contract be lost. Instead it claimed there was no risk. US servicemen exposed to Agent Orange duly developed cancers and other illnesses & half a million Vietnamese children have been born with horrific deformities.




11-4-06   Apart from denying responsibility, Agent Orange manufacturers for the US military also, in the face of the victims’ challenge, routinely denied that dioxin was harmful to humans. But the November 1990 US Veteran Dispatch staff report revealed that Dow Chemical, even back in the 1960s, had suppressed information about the toxic hazards of dioxin from both the government and the public.

The report quoted a February 22, 1965 internal company memo that recorded a meeting of 13 executives who discussed the potential hazards of dioxin. It also quoted records of a March 1965 meeting between major US chemical companies to discuss the toxicity issue and a June 1965 Dow memo that contained warnings of the “exceptional toxicity” of dioxin and its ability to inflict systemic injury. This memo decreed that “under no circumstances” should the information be leaked outside Dow.


The Army told (US soldier) Warren that the chemicals had been tested and there was nothing to worry about. The Army was wrong.

The first public concern arose in 1964. In February 1965, just as the spraying was increasing, Dow Chemical Corp. held a meeting with other manufacturers to discuss the potential long-term hazards of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. Three months later, a Dow executive sent a memo to a manager at the Dow factory in Canada informing him of the high toxins and the concern for skin disorders.

The chemical companies and the military kept these concerns quiet. They continued to claim the herbicides would not hurt people economically or physically.


Dow Brand Dioxin

2.1  Chlorine

     About 40 million tons of chlorine are produced in the world
each year.  Dow is by far the world's largest single producer. 
At facilities in the U.S., Canada, Germany and Brazil, Dow has
capacity to produce over 5.3 million metric tons of chlorine per
year -- 11.5 percent of the world's total.  Dow's leading
competitor, Occidental Chemical, comes in a distant second, with
7.1 percent.  [SRI 1993]   Dow's combined chlorine production
capacity is greater than that of any country in the world, except
the U.S.

     In North America, Dow is by far the largest chlorine
producer.  At facilities in Freeport, TX, Oyster Creek, TX, and
Plaquemine, LA, Dow produces 3.7 million tons of chlorine per
year -- about a third of the U.S. Total. [SRI 1992]  At a single
facility in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, Dow produces 550,000 tons
of chlorine -- almost half the Canadian capacity. [SRI 1993]

     Some chemical companies manufacture chlorine primarily for
sale to pulp mills or water treatment plants.  Dow uses most of
the chlorine it makes to produce organochlorine chemicals,
including plastics, solvents, pesticides, and chemical
intermediates.  Many of these are known to result in dioxin
formation during manufacture, use and disposal.

2.2  Pesticides

     Dow is -- and has been since World War II -- one of the
largest producers of chlorinated pesticides in the U.S.  Dow was
a particular leader in the production of dioxin-contaminated
herbicides.  During and prior to the Vietnam war, Dow became the
largest U.S. supplier of 2,4,5-T, the active component of
Agent Orange.

     This pesticide may be one of the largest historical sources
of dioxin in the environment. 2,4,5-T contained 2,3,7,8-TCDD (the
most toxic dioxin congener) in concentrations up to 50 parts per
million, although Dow insists that its 2,4,5-T contained lower
levels. [Zook 1995]

     The wastes from manufacture contained even higher dioxin
concentrations. Use of 2,4,5-T as a defoliant in South Vietnam
resulted in severe and large-scale dioxin contamination; levels
in South Vietnam remain among the highest in the world. [Schecter

     In the U.S., use of 2,4,5-T on forests and other lands
resulted in dioxin contamination at dozens of sites. [EPA 1987] 
Workers and Vietnam veterans involved with 2,4,5-T were exposed
to significant quantities of dioxin, and numerous studies have
documented elevated rates of cancer and other diseases among
exposed persons. [EPA 1994a]  2,4,5-T also resulted in
significant contamination at dozens of U.S. facilities where
2,4,5-T was manufactured, formulated, or disposed of. [EPA 1987]

     In fact, at least 27 pesticides made by Dow now or in the
past are known or suspected of dioxin contamination.  Some, like
2,4,5-T and Erbon, were restricted in the 1980s, but Dow
continues to make other dioxin-contaminated organochlorine
pesticides to this day.

     Of particular concern is 2,4-D, a similar pesticide that was
the other component of Agent Orange.  EPA has known for at least
15 years that 2,4-D is contaminated with dioxin [Esposito 1980];
this knowledge was confirmed as recently as 1993, when EPA found
that technical 2,4-D contains 2,3,7,8-TCDD and 1,2,3,7,8-PeCDD at
concentrations of 130 and 2600 parts per trillion, respectively.
[Funk 1993]  Like 2,4,5-T, 2,4-D is deliberately and directly
spread into the environment during its use as an herbicide on
lawns, golf courses, lakes, and rights-of-way.

     Although no federal agency tracks the use of pesticides,
U.S. EPA estimates that farmers apply 25 to 30 million pounds of
the "active ingredient" 2,4-D each year. Nonagricultural uses are
estimated to add another 12 to 15 million pounds.  Aqua-Kleen, a
commonly used aquatic herbicide manufactured by Dow and sold by
Rhone-Poulenc is 28% 2,4-D.

     Dow continues as the nation's leading producer of numerous
other chlorinated herbicides with ring structures, which are
particularly susceptible to dioxin generation.  These include the
pesticides 2,4-DP, MCPA, Chlorpyrifos (Dursban), and Mecoprop....
This is of great concern because of dioxin's extreme
toxicity. Dioxin remains the most toxic synthetic chemical known
to science. It is an extremely potent carcinogen, causing an
increase in cancer risk at numerous sites in truly infinitesimal
quantities.  But recent research indicates that it is dioxin's
effect on reproduction, child development, and the immune system
that are of the greatest concern.

     We now know that dioxin acts as a powerful "environmental
hormone," disrupting the endocrine system which the body uses to
delicately regulate a wide range of physiological functions. 
Dioxin interferes with the body's natural signaling hormones,
resulting in such effects as feminization of male offspring,
reduced sperm counts, altered sexual behavior, endometriosis,
birth defects, reduced IQ in developing children, weight loss and
"wasting" syndrome, and suppressed immune defenses against
infectious disease. [Birnbaum 1994, EPA 1994a]...
4.  Dioxin Politics: Dow's Record

     Controversy about dioxin as a health threat is nothing new. 
Dow and other chemical companies were aware as early as 1963 that
dioxin was extraordinarily toxic and occurred as a contaminant in
at least some Dow products, including 2,4,5-T.  Since then,
ever-more convincing evidence has emerged showing that dioxin
poses a real hazard to public health on a global scale.  But Dow
and others continue to manufacture chlorine and the related
products that cause dioxin contamination; in fact, global
chlorine production has increased by over 50 percent since 1970.
[SRI 1993]  Why has nothing been done to address the dioxin

     The answer lies in the immense power of Dow and other
chemical industry actors.  Starting during the Vietnam war, when
it covered up the presence of dioxin in Agent Orange, to its
present role in derailing EPA's dioxin reassessment and
dismantling U.S. environmental regulation, Dow has impeded
efforts to restrict dioxin pollution.  By corrupting governmental
and scientific processes, Dow has used its immense influence to
protect its profitable products from efforts to protect the
public's health.  In 1994, Dow Chemical had over $20 billion in
revenues. [Fortune 1995]...
4.1  Agent Orange

     The first chapter of Dow's dioxin history began with the
manufacture of 2,4,5-T in 1950 at its Midland facility.  As
revealed in federal court documents and summarized in a 1983 New
York Times story, Dow knew of the presence of dioxin in the Agent
Orange it produced for at least seven years before it reported
the problem to the government.  [Blumenthal 1983]

     As early as the mid 1950s, European manufacturers discovered
the presence of a highly toxic contaminant in 2,4,5-T and
identified it as dioxin; one company notified Dow in writing of
the problem in 1957.  Dow did nothing, until 1964, when an
outbreak of chloracne -- a hallmark symptom of dioxin exposure --
occurred among workers in its Midland production line, and a
research laboratory detected dioxin in the final 2,4,5-T product.

     Subsequently, Dow invited several other 2,4,5-T
manufacturers (including Monsanto and Hooker Chemical -- now
Occidental) to Midland to discuss the scientific and political
implications of the finding of "highly toxic impurities" in their
Agent Orange production line; the representatives explicitly
discussed the need to adopt a strategy to avoid Government
regulation based on this new hazard. According to a 1965 internal
memo written by Dow's toxicology director, Dr. V.K. Rowe:

     "As you well know, we had a serious situation in our
operating plants because of contamination with
2,4,5-trichlorophenol with impurities, the most active of which
is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin."      
     "The material is exceptionally toxic; it has tremendous
potential for producing chloracne and systemic injury."

     "One of the things we want to avoid is the occurrence of any
acne in consumers.  I am particularly concerned here with
consumers who are using the material on a daily repeated basis,
such as custom operators may use it."

     "If this should occur, the whole 2,4,5-T industry will be
hard hit and I would expect restrictive legislation, either
barring the material or putting very rigid controls upon it. 
This is the main reason why we are so concerned that we clean up
our own house from within, rather than having someone from
without do it for us...."

     "I trust that you will be very judicious in your use of this
information.  It could be very embarrassing if it were       
misinterpreted or misused."

     Not until 6 years later -- in 1970 -- did Dow did report the
discovery of dioxin in 2,4,5-T to the government.  Throughout
this period, Dow continued to make and sell contaminated Agent
Orange to the U.S. armed forces for use in Vietnam.  Dow became
the largest of all U.S. Agent Orange contractors, selling
nearly one-third of the total 12.8 million gallons supplied to
the Government.  This Agent Orange continued to be used in South
Vietnam; millions of veterans and South Vietnamese citizens were
exposed to the pesticides and its contaminants.

     After the Vietnam War ended, thousands of veterans exposed
to Agent Orange struggled to receive compensation for their
injuries.  Dow and numerous government officials continued to
cover up their own knowledge of dioxin's toxicity and deny that
dioxin caused any illnesses besides chloracne.  In public
relations work Dow suggested that many of the veterans' problems
were merely psychological....
In 1977, a citizens' suit
in Oregon and an EPA study correlating human miscarriages with
the spraying of 2,4,5-T and other contaminated herbicides in
Oregon led EPA to issue an emergency suspension of 2,4,5-T

     Dow challenged EPA's decision and the validity of the EPA
study, and the issue was tied up in legal and legislative
battling for the next six years.  Only in 1983, when scientific
documents were leaked which clearly established the role of
dioxin in the Oregon miscarriage studies, was Dow forced to
retreat.  EPA began an investigation into the matter, and Dow
voluntarily withdrew the registration of 2,4,5-T. [Merrell 1987]...
    Dow and the CMA have had some of their greatest legislative
victories on dioxin, in particular.  The FY 1996 EPA
Appropriations Bill, recently passed by the House but not yet
law, would cut EPA's overall budget by 33 percent and could
cripple new dioxin-related regulations on pulp mills and
incinerators.  The bill could also prevent EPA from considering
certain types of scientific information on dioxin exposure and
hazards, and it could remove the agency's authority to finalize
its dioxin reassessment.

     Dow's lobbying activity takes place against an important
background.  In the last decade, Dow gave politicians running for
national office more than $1 million in PAC and "soft" money,
according to Federal Election Commission records.  In the 1992
election alone, Dow and other top chlorine producers gave more
than $1.4 million to Congressional campaigns. [Paulsen 1993]
Another analysis of FEC records found that Dow's 10 political
action committees gave a total of $1.1 million to political
candidates from January 1989 to November 1994. [PIRG 1995] 

     Much of Dow's anti-regulatory campaigns happen under the
cover and anonymity of trade associations and other D.C.-based
lobby firms.  Meanwhile, Dow attempts to maintain a "green image"
before the public.

     Besides its membership in the CCC and the Chemical
Manufacturers Association, Dow also participates in numerous
other industry front groups, such as the Vinyl Institute, the
National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of

     Each of these is armed with lawyers and lobbyists who daily
stroll the corridors of Congress, the EPA and the White House,
influencing public policy in ways unimaginable, and inaccessible,
to ordinary citizens.  Each of these has a public relations
budget, and staff to write op eds, testify before Congress or the
EPA, appear on news shows as "experts," speak to civic groups. 
These in turn support a relatively new industry of "grass roots"
lobbying firms, who specialize in spreading a carefully scripted
industry line to millions of business owners and workers, and
manufacturing groundswells of carefully orchestrated "citizen"
support (letters, phone calls, e-mail, telegrams) for the
priorities dictated by Fortune 500 corporations.  This network
provided the model and infrastructure for Dow's massive
retaliation against efforts to investigate the link between
dioxin and chlorine."

     Dow also uses direct corporate influence peddling.  For
example, this year Dow has provided one of its regional
lobbyists, Dale Humbert, free of charge to the staff of the U.S.
House of Representatives Commerce Committee.[Midland Daily News,

     The committee has jurisdiction over energy, public health,
and environmental matters critical to Dow's chlorine business. 
Humbert will work for the committee for nine months on a
fellowship from the Society of Environmental Toxicology.  This
committee is in the front lines of Congress' attack on the EPA
and the basic framework of the nation's environmental protection
Dow's own data, in fact, contradict its theory.  The data in
Dow's original paper indicate that Dow facilities are far more
important dioxin sources than is nature.  Although dioxin was
found in trace amounts in soil samples from urban areas, soil
samples from Dow's facility in Midland, Michigan, contained
dioxin in concentrations thousands of times higher.  And
while trace amounts of dioxin were found in residues from
combustion in automobiles, home fireplaces, and cigarettes, the
dioxin levels found in particulate matter from Dow's own
incinerators were orders of magnitude higher.  Somehow, these
facts were not acknowledged in the text of Dow's article.

     Dow and its allies continue to argue in support of this
theory --and to sow confusion -- even though the theory has been
definitively proven false. EPA's Dioxin Reassessment -- the most
thorough inventory of dioxin sources ever assembled -- makes
clear that if any dioxin is produced naturally, the quantities
are negligible: EPA shows that more than 99 percent of all dioxin
comes from industrial sources. [EPA 1994b]...

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In 2005 former New Zealand Transport Safety Minister and New Plymouth MP Harry Duynhoven created a sensation by claiming that the Dow plant in New Zealand had made and exported Agent Orange for use in the Vietnam War. Duynhoven told the Sunday News he had proof that the products used to make Agent Orange - 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D - were shipped from the Taranaki wharves in the 1960s to the American base at Subic Bay in the Philippines for use in the Vietnam War. This contradicted years of denials by Ivon Watkins Dow - now Dow AgroSciences - and confirmed the earlier confession of an anonymous Dow executive.

In 2000, a former top official at New Plymouth’s lvon Watkins Dow chemical factory gave an anonymous interview to Investigate Magazine. ‘There have been rumours circulating for some time, never proven, that IWD was supplying the defoliant Agent Orange to be used in the Vietnam War. The allegation is true. I was on the management committee of Ivon Watkins Dow, and I supported the plan to export Agent Orange. In fact, it went ahead on my casting vote.

‘People who’d served in the armed forces made a strong case for the need to defoliate the jungle, because of the risk to servicemen from ambush or sniper fire from the undergrowth. So we began manufacturing this Agent Orange, but it didn’t meet the international specifications and probably had an excess of ‘nasties’ in it. The problem was, we didn’t consider the product was harmful to humans at the time.

“Our scientists relied on assurances and technical data provided to them by Dow Chemicals in the USA. We were led to believe it was safe. The whole reason I supported Agent Orange is because we thought we were giving our boys on the ground a hand.

“To avoid detection, we shipped the Agent Orange to South America – Mexico if I recall correctly – and it was onshipped to its final destination from there.”


 The president of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem began to push the U.S. Military Advisory Group in Vietnam and the White House to begin crop destruction in September 1961, but it was not until October 1962 when the White House gave approval for limited testing of Agent Blue against crops in an area believed to be controlled by the Viet Cong.[18] Soon after, crop destruction became an integral part of the Ranch Hand program…. In 1967, seventeen Nobel laureates and 5,000 other scientists signed a petition asking for the immediate end to the use of herbicides in Vietnam.


The New York Times recently published a 600-page report, that revealed new evidence that numerous Nazi war criminals, and notorious mass murders have been secretly working for the CIA for the last thirty years. Present Kennedy also ordered the CIA to stop importing and selling drugs to the American people, to finance their gun running, assassinations, wars, and covert operations, and he sent the FBI to locate the camps and to shut them down.

John Kennedy had a trusted friend Arthur Krock who would write articles for him in the New York Times. On October 3, 1963 in an article titled “The Intra-Administration War in Vietnam.” President Kennedy stated that “Twice the CIA flatly refused to carry out the Presidents instructions, because the agency disagreed with him.” Kennedy “likened” the CIA’S growth to a malignancy, which he was not sure even the White House could control any longer. Kennedy went on to say that, “If the United States ever experiences an attempt at a coup to overthrow the Government, it will come from the CIA.”


Agent Orange is Still Killing People in Vietnam and America   1-2-12

Responding to American veterans’ concerns about the possible health effects of Agent Orange, the Department of Defense claimed that combat troops had not entered defoliated zones until six weeks after Air Force pilots had destroyed the trees.  By that time, said the DOD, residue from the herbicide spray would have broken down, limiting soldiers’ exposure to toxic chemicals.

“Are you kidding me?” scoffed veterans I asked about the government’s assertions.  “More like six hours.  Six minutes.  What were we going to do, sit back and wait for the enemy to attack us and then book back into the bush?  [We] drank water and ate food sprayed with Agent Orange. [We] slept on ground soaked with that shit. [We] got sprayed directly.  Soaking wet.  The government is lying.  They can make up all the stories they want but we know better.  They weren’t there.  We were.  They’re not fooling anyone but themselves.”  …

Twenty years later, Judge Weinstein ruled against the Vietnamese plaintiffs—some of the witnesses died soon after returning home to Vietnam—and appellate courts upheld his decision.  According to spokespersons for the manufacturers of Agent Orange, these companies were just following orders, and doing their patriotic duty when they sold the U.S. military more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange.  Therefore, they are neither legally nor morally obligated to pay for any harm that U.S. soldiers and the Vietnamese people allege can be traced to the defoliation campaign in Southeast Asia.  That Agent Orange was contaminated with TCDD-dioxin, the most toxic small molecule known to science, and that at least one manufacturer, Dow Chemical, knew that dioxin was “potentially deadly to human beings” makes no difference.  John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson signed on to the defoliation campaign and year after year Congress funded the use of herbicides in Vietnam. 

The wartime manufacturers of Agent Orange agreed to an out-of-court settlement in which they would pay $180 million dollars to the plaintiffs.  Veterans called this agreement a “sellout,” not a settlement.  

The chemical manufacturers of Agent Orange continue to deny that there’s any valid scientific evidence to support the view that dioxin harms human beings.  It’s hard to imagine that their scientists are unaware that every known human carcinogen causes cancer in animals, and that nearly everything that causes birth defects in humans also causes birth defects in animals.  The chemical companies must know that after injuries and violence, cancer is the number one killer of American children, and that the world scientific community considers dioxin a carcinogen.

Three million Vietnamese people, including 500,000 children, are suffering from the tragic legacies of chemical warfare.  In Vietnam, a third and even fourth generation of Agent Orange babies have been born, and no one really knows when this calamity might end.



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