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The main ingredients of Agent Orange comprise an equal mixture of two phenoxyl herbicides – 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T) – in iso-octyl ester form, which contained traces of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD).Agent Orange dries quickly after spraying and breaks down within hours to days when exposed to sunlight (if not bound chemically to a biological surface such as soil, leaves and grass) and is no longer harmful. Dioxin enters the body by attaching to a protein called the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (Ah R), a transcription factor.Land in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia was also sprayed with Agent Orange during the Vietnam War because forests on the border with Vietnam were used by the Vietcong.Some countries, such as Canada, saw testing, while other countries, such as Brazil, used the herbicide to clear out sections of land for agriculture.Military personnel who were involved in storage, mixture and transportation (including aircraft mechanics), and actual use of the chemicals were probably among those who received the heaviest exposures.After returning home, Vietnam veterans began to suspect their ill health or the instances of their wives having miscarriages or children born with birth defects might be related to Agent Orange and the other toxic herbicides to which they had been exposed in Vietnam.

Several herbicides were discovered as part of efforts by the USA and the British to develop herbicidal weapons for use during World War II. Department of the Army contracted the botanist and bioethicist Arthur Galston, who discovered the defoliants later used in Agent Orange, and his employer University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana to study the effects of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T on cereal grains (including rice) and broadleaf crops. Army ran tests of various 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T mixtures at the Bushnell Army Airfield in Florida. By the end of the war, the relationship between the two countries was well established. The chemicals involved were 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, and endothall (3,6-endoxohexahydrophthalic acid). Secretary of State Dean Rusk advised President John F.

Defoliants eroded tree cover and seedling forest stock, making reforestation difficult in numerous areas.

Animal species diversity sharply reduced in contrast with unsprayed areas.

A detailed account of how the British experimented with the spraying of herbicides was written by two scientists, E. Woodford of Agricultural Research Council's Unit of Experimental Agronomy and H. But Diem's request launched a policy debate in the White House and the State and Defense Departments. Agent Orange was usually sprayed from helicopters or from low-flying C-123 Provider aircraft, fitted with sprayers and "MC-1 Hourglass" pump systems and 3,800 L (1,000 U. By 1971, 12 percent of the total area of South Vietnam had been sprayed with defoliating chemicals, at an average concentration of 13 times the recommended U. Department of Agriculture application rate for domestic use. but the emphasis is usually given to the jungle defoliation in public mention of the program." Military personnel were told they were destroying crops because they were going to be used to feed guerrillas.

They later discovered nearly all of the food they had been destroying was not being produced for guerrillas; it was, in reality, only being grown to support the local civilian population.

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