Time Magazine has listed Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide sprayed by the US army during the Vietnam War, as one of "50 worst inventions" of mankind.
Between 1961 and 1971, the US Army sprayed some 80 million liters of Agent Orange over 30,000 square miles of southern Vietnam.
It was named after the color of the stripe on the barrels in which the defoliant sprayed by American forces during the Vietnam War was stored.
By the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, nearly 4.8 million Vietnamese people had been exposed to Agent Orange, causing 400,000 deaths.
"I will not confirm or deny whether or not Agent Orange is in the right "˜list' of inventions, but in terms of the long-term effects of the herbicide, yes, I feel this chemical does deserve a place in world history," said Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk, a senior Canadian environmental scientist who used to work for Hatfield Consultant.
Asked about the significance of this listing, Merle Ratner, another Agent Orange activist in the US, said: "Now there is a tidal wave of international public opinion for justice for Agent Orange victims including compensation from the US government and chemical manufacturers."
Vietnam and the US have remained at odds over the compensation for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange and the damage it has caused to the environment.
So far the US has allocated US$6 million for clean-up and assistance to the victims, a sum described as paltry by Vietnamese officials, victims and activists.
"Six million dollars is nothing compared to the consequences left behind by Agent Orange," Le Ke Son, deputy general administrator of Vietnam's Environmental Administration, was quoted by the Associated Press in a recent newswire story.
"How much does one Tomahawk missile cost?" he asked.
*View the full list of The 50 Worst Inventions at www.time.com/time/specials/packages/ completelist/0,29569,1991915,00.htm