Agent Orange
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Basic Information

Agent Orange is the code name of the most well-known of the "Rainbow Herbicides" used by the US Military during the Vietnam War. The typical delivery method is spraying from Helicopter or Airplane. Over 20 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed across South Vietnam, and over 4 million people were directly exposed to the chemical.

At the time the government deployed it to vietnam, it was already known that a poisonous and carcinogenic dioxin was in the chemical, a remnant of the manufacturing process. Agent Orange has since been linked to a variety of cancers and birth defects, as well as diabetes. [1]

Agent Orange was originally designed as a plant growth horomone, which was then discovered to create catastrophic defoliation in large quantities. It effects broad-leaf trees and similar plants, causing them to experience rapid uncontrolled growth that results in depletion of energy and resources, and thus defoliation. Basically, the plants grow themselves to death.

Former rainforests that were heavily doused with Agent Orange remain devoid of trees four decades later. Other types of plants are unaffected by it, however. Corn and wheat resist it, for example. Much of the Vietnamese rainforest has been supplanted by Cogon, a fast-growing grass species described as the world's worst weed.[2]

Agent Orange was used in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971. In the 1960s was also sprayed on the DMZ dividing North Korea from South Korea. It was also used in the Panama Canal Zone into the 1970s. It was manufactured in New Zealand, sold to the United States, and stored in mass quantities at a US Military facility in Guam.

Agent Orange takes it's name from the orange stripe marked on each barrel. Other chemicals in the Rainbow Herbicides program were similarly packaged, with a stripe of Purple, Pink, Green, Blue, or White.

See Also:


2. Nonfiction Book: World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Game and Story Use

  • A plant-based monster (or other paranormal mystery) has been documented in Guam, New Zealand, Vietnam, Korea, and Panama. The PCs visit each location, trying to discover a common thread, and eventually realize that only occurs in land that remains poisoned from excessive application of Agent Orange. The monster turns out to be a mutated human or animal subspecies - the dioxin broke down their genetic structure, and the plant growth horomone somehow melded them with plant tissues.
  • Twenty Minutes Into The Future, to avert a Malthusian Catastrophe (or at least remain in control after one), The Conspiracy dispatches it's fleet of Black Helicopters to spray Agent Orange onto every forest on a single continent. They intend to kill off all the people of that continent, and turn the landmass there into a giant Factory Farm producing grain for the remaining population of the world. As if the inhumanity of killing an entire continent and imposing a totalitarian regime wasn't bad enough, there's also the concern that deforesting a continent will cause a worldwide oxygen shortage.
    • You may want at better motivation … spraying somewhere down with herbicide to kill of the human population and turn it into a farm sounds like a designated idiot scheme to me.
  • In a fantasy setting, an anti-Druidic sect of Wizards develops an efficient and nasty defoliation spell. The spell is carried in an orange-colored magic wand, which the Big Bad Evil Guy mass-produces and gives to the Orcs. The orcs, in turn, intend to wipe out the forest of the Elves.
  • This works really well as a display of unintended side-effects - the toxic effect on humans was largely due to the dioxin content rather than the herbicide itself. Expect gadgeteered solutions to problems to come back and bite the creator on the ass - or at least to kick off a new adventure to clean up the mess.
  • A corrupt megacorp sells a miracle fertilizer that can shorten the time needed to grow crops. At first, it seems to work: anything sprayed with it grows fast and is ready for market in a fraction of the usual time. But then perennials start dying off, having grown themselves to death and possibly exhausted the soil in the process. Fortunately the corp also sells seeds and conventional fertilizer to replace them…
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