A fried fish served at a restaurant in Sepon, Laos, near the old Ho Chi Minh Trail, in a region that was sprayed with herbicides during war.
In the past seven years of research on unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos, we’ve often wondered about the safety of foods we’ve eaten and encountered along the way—the daily diets of Laotians who live in the aftermath of war. How did/do all those bombs affect the soil and crops? How did/do all those herbicides sprayed linger in the food chain?
The trouble is, we know very little. Precious few studies have examined food safety in Laos, particularly in areas that were sprayed with Agent Orange and other chemicals. Researchers note a distinct lack of funds to study these issues.
But a series of news stories about dioxins in the past month prompted me to examine and write what I could about these toxins in Laos—yet another legacy of the US bombing campaign 40 years ago. That story is now in The Faster Times.
A view of the mountains along the border between southern Laos and Vietnam, in an area that US forces bombed and sprayed with herbicides.
Kids fishing in Sepon, near areas that were sprayed with herbicides. They are using a boat made from a fuel drop tank jettisoned by US forces during war.
A view of the Ho Chi Minh Trail today in Attapeu province, southern Laos.
A villager fetching water from a river along the old Ho Chi Minh Trail in southern Laos.