Last week, Treehugger posted an article suggesting that ranchers in Brazil were covertly using Agent Orange to illegally clear patches of the rainforest. The article received several comments on most sites where it was syndicated, mostly outraged that this could be occurring; however, there were some that were skeptical.
Agent Orange is a combination of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D; however, the 2,4,5-T was found to be contaminated with 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin, also known as TCDD, which is a very toxic dioxin compound. Today, 2,4,5-T is banned in many areas of the world due to the toxicity dangers. It isn’t just Agent Orange that is banned, but one of its principle ingredients. Translations via Google of the sites cited by Treehugger never actually claimed that Agent Orange was used or that the entire “Agent Orange” compound was used.
Illegal clearing of the rainforest is dangerous beyond being illegal. Most elementary school science students can tell you that we need foliage to maintain appropriate levels of oxygen in the air. While there is much controversy about global warming, additional carbon dioxide in the air is said to contribute to global warming. The rainforest also recycles water from the jungle floor back into the atmosphere, decreasing the chances of droughts around the world. There are many varieties of plant life in the rainforest that we have no yet even discovered how to use, yet, 25 percent of medicines today originated from plants found only in rainforests.
Using chemical herbicides to clear land for farming or raising cattle is dangerous, whether or not the chemical is Agent Orange. It is alarming to people that any trace of Agent Orange might end up in their food, whether the area is used for crops or livestock. While small amounts of Agent Orange can have alarming effects, large amounts of other chemicals can have similar ones.
Yes, Monsanto and Dow both produced Agent Orange during the Vietnam War era, however, we do not even know if Agent Orange is still being used, let alone if it is being manufactured. I am afraid that the original article by Treehugger may have been a bit alarmist and name dropping was used as an SEO technique. While these are important things to monitor, it does not help to share information that is not backed up by fact.
July 18th, 2011