THE AFTERMATH
The Commission's views, as provided by Monsanto's counsel, were supported
by Professor Richard Doll in a letter to the Commissioner, Justice Evatt. We do
not know the motive for that letter, but it has been reprinted (40) and cited (41)
in the literature, and may therefore be quoted here as well:
[Dr. Hardell's] conclusions cannot be sustained and in my opinion, his work
should no longer be cited as scientific evidence. It is clear, too, from your review
of the published evidence relating to 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T (the phenoxy herbicides
in question) that there is no reason to suppose that they are carcinogenic in
laboratory animals and that even TCDD (dioxin), which has been postulated to
be a dangerous contaminant of the herbicides, is at the most, only weakly and
inconsistently carcinogenic in animal experiments. I am sorry only that your
review has had to be published in book form and not in a scientific journal, as
books are so much less readily available to the majority of scientists. I am sure,
however, that it will be widely quoted and that it will come to be regarded as the
definitive work on the subject.
The advice that the Commission’s conclusions should be "readily available"
and "widely quoted" was adopted, especially by two of the Commission's
consultants, A. L. Young and G. M. Reggiani. Dr. Young featured in the U.S.
Air Force's investigation into Agent Orange and dioxin (42). Dr. Reggiani was a
consultant to Hoffman-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland, with particular
responsibilities in relation to the company's involvement in the 1976 Seveso
dioxin accident (43).
Young and Reggiani have edited a book called Agent Orange and Its
Associated Dioxin: Assessment of a Controversy (40).
Interestingly, Chapter 7 of this book, "Soft Tissue Sarcoma: Law, Science and
Logic, an Australian Perspective" (40, pp. 131-169), was written by Mr. Barry
O'Keefe. Mr. O'Keefe served as attorney for Monsanto in the cross-
examinations before the Commission. Moreover, despite our rebuttals (35) and
the admission of errors by Australia's Department of Veterans' Affairs (4), Mr.
O'Keefe repeated the errors that appeared in the Commission's report--or
rather his own errors as they originally appeared in the Monsanto submission, as
discussed elsewhere (44). However, while Professor Doll's letter has been used
in support of the supposed lack of carcinogenic effect of exposure to
phenoxyacetic acids or chlorophenols, it seems that he has failed to follow his
own advice not to cite our studies as scientific evidence. In a paper published in
1990, discussing the increasing mortality due to, for example, non-Hodgkin's
lymphoma and soft-tissue sarcoma, he cites some of our studies (45).
In contrast to the Royal Commission's report, the U.S. National Academy of
Sciences' review of health effects in Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange
(5) concluded about our studies on soft-tissue sarcoma (6, 7, 15, 16): "Although
these studies have been criticised, the committee feels that there is insufficient
justification to discount the consistent pattern of elevated risks, and the clearly
described and sound methods employed." Similar conclusions were reached
about our malignant lymphoma study (8).
BACK