Ex-activist's Agent Orange fight goes on

Yiming Woo and Sarah MeysonnierAAP
Tran To Nga says she has health problems caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Camera IconTran To Nga says she has health problems caused by exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Credit: AP

An elderly French-Vietnamese woman has vowed to pursue her legal fight to obtain compensation for health problems she says were caused by exposure to the toxic herbicide Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

Earlier this week, a French court rejected a lawsuit filed by 79-year old Tran To Nga against 14 chemical companies, but on Tuesday she said she would appeal.

"I am disappointed, I am angry, but I am not sad," she said.

"We are going to carry on because our cause is just. Truth is on our side."

US warplanes dropped about 68 million litres of Agent Orange - so-called because it was stored in drums with orange bands - between the early 1960s and early 1970s to defoliate jungles and destroy crops.

Tran, who worked as a journalist and activist in Vietnam in her 20s, has said she suffers from effects from breathing in the chemcial, including Type 2 diabetes and a rare insulin allergy.

Her lawsuit, first filed in 2014, sought compensation from chemical firms including Dow Chemical and Monsanto, now owned by Germany's Bayer.

Those multinational companies argued they could not be held legally responsible for how the US military had decided to use their product.

So far, only military veterans from the United States and other countries involved in the war have won compensation over the use of Agent Orange.

In 2008, a US federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a civil lawsuit against major chemical companies brought by Vietnamese plaintiffs.

The United States has said there is no scientifically proven link to support the claims of dioxin poisoning of many Vietnamese plaintiffs.

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