Thursday, January 26, 2006

South Korean court rules against US producers of Agent Orange

The Seoul High Court has ordered two U.S. manufacturers of the defoliant Agent Orange, Dow Chemical and Monsanto Company, to pay $62 million in medical compensation to South Korean veterans of the Vietnam War and their families.
It is acknowledged ... the defendants failed to ensure safety as the defoliants manufactured by the defendants had higher levels of dioxins than standard.
Many people aren't aware of this, but ROK soldiers made up the largest foreign contingent of U.S. allies fighting in Vietnam, contributing some 320,000 troops. Officially, 5,077 South Korean soldiers were killed and 10,962 were wounded.

As the MS-NBC article notes, South Koreans, Vietnamese, and many U.S. veterans blame a variety of illnesses on exposure to Agent Orange, including miscarriages, birth defects, cancers, and nervous disorders. Officially, Agent Orange made up 55% of the 19 million gallons of herbicide dropped on Vietnam between 1962 and 1971 to destroy jungle cover for communist troops.
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  1. And how do they plan on enforcing this ruling?

  2. I was wondering the same thing (it was the first thing I thought of when I read this). I suppose there would be a problem with Dow Corning or Monsanto doing business in Korea if they didn't pay—or appeal the ruling.

  3. They can't except in part - assuming that the decision is upheld on appeal. The case was originally brought against the Korean subsidiaries of Dow and Monsanto, which I would imagine have a pretty samll, if any footprint in Korea now - about 7 years later. the defendants also will no doubt appeal to the Korean Supreme Court. Given that they won the first round at the original trial level, there's probably a better than average chance that the Supremes, who only take up about 3-4% of the cases appealed will take it.

  4. Dow Corning wholly owns a sizable plant in Chinch'ŏn County (진천군) in North Ch'ungch'ŏng Province, which was expanded in 2003.

    I'm not sure what all wholly-owned Monsanto Korea does with their joint ventures and sales, but they reportedly do $190 million sales.


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