Astudy of New Zealand Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange has confirmed they have suffered genetic damage – and found that their children and grandchildren may experience the same fate.
The Massey University study, released yesterday, found that the sample of 24 veterans tested had damage to their DNA following exposure to the herbicide, which was sprayed by US forces to remove jungle cover and food supplies from the enemy.
The study said the results warranted a larger study of New Zealand veterans, and a study of their children.
“Some veterans who have not felt concerned for themselves will now be asking what this means for their children or grandchildren,” said Chris Mullane, of the Ex-Vietnam Services Association.
“Once you start screwing around with human DNA, who knows what the outcome will be. The main concern of veterans is not about ourselves now. It is about what happens to our children when we go.”
The Government should order the further studies “without delay”.
The research has come too late to be included in the Agent Orange Joint Working Group report, which recommends that the Government apologise and pay veterans poisoned by Agent Orange $50,000 each.
Defence Minister Phil Goff and Veterans’ Affairs Minister Rick Barker said they had not yet officially received the report.
“The Government is open to new information and analysis which gives us insight into health effects of being exposed to a toxic environment in Vietnam,” they said.
“We welcome further work which adds to our knowledge of the effects of Agent Orange and adds to the international research we are relying on.”
Published: 2006, Jul 28. | Time-stamp: 11:55 PM Friday | By: Patrick Gower | Article Link: nzherald.co.nz | Article Title: DNA Injury Confirmed in Vietnam Veterans.