Saw this on my Facebook today.

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Agent Orange

Agent Orange wasn't invented by Monsanto... The primary manufacturer wasn't Monsanto. It was Dow Chemical. When Dow couldn't manufacture it fast enough, the government turned to overflow suppliers, including Hercules, the Diamond Shamrock Corporation, Uniroyal (the tire manufacturer), Thompson Chemical Company, and, yes, Monsanto (the chemical company). **But strangely, only Monsanto gets blamed for it -- you never see folks boycotting Uniroyal tires over Agent Orange!

Text from "Is Monsanto evil?" www.quora.com/Is-Monsanto-evil/answer/Franklin-Veaux


Conversely, Wikipedia claims in an unreferenced statement,

In the 1960s and 1970s, Monsanto was one of the most important producers of Agent Orange for United States Armed Forces operations in Vietnam.

  • Where in that graphic does it say that Monsanto only produced a small amount of Agent Orange?
    – user7920
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 9:51
  • 1
    @coleopterist, you're right. The claim says that Monsanto wasn't the primary manufacturer of Agent Orange. I have changed the question. Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 10:21
  • Why does anyone think that the "Monsanto is evil" meme in any way relates to its past production of Agent Orange?
    – jamesqf
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


The amounts of agent orange, in units of 55-gallon (208 liter) drums by company is as follows:

  • Dow 78,235
  • Monsanto 67,065
  • Hercules 49,945
  • Thompson-Hayward Chemical (T.H. Agriculture and Nutrition ) 21,055
  • Diamond Alkali /Shamrock 12,555
  • US Rubber (Uniroyal) 11,635
  • Thompson Chemicals 7,185
  • Agrisect 1,875
  • Hoffman-Taff 410

The above data is from table 2.2 (page 44) of The History, Use, Disposition and Environmental Fate of Agent Orange by A. L Young (2009).

The book also repeats this data in table 5.6 (page 173), breaking it down by fiscal year. For the first two years, 1963 and 1964, Monsanto was the only supplier. The statement in the OP "When Dow couldn't manufacture it fast enough, the government turned to overflow suppliers" is thusly untrue. In 1965, Dow and Hercules joined Monsanto in the production effort. The other companies started still latter.

While Dow produced more Agent Orange, it produced agent orange with a lower concentration of dioxin contamination. The same book provides data in table 5.11 (page 183), for each of the top 5 producers, broken down by year.

  • At Monsanto, dioxin concentration ranged from 1.04-11.53 ppm
  • Diamond Alkali/Shamrock 0.53-8.27 ppm
  • Dow: undetectable to 0.63ppm
  • Thomas-Hayward: 0.32ppm
  • Hercules: undetectable to 0.03ppm (undetectable in 47 of 48 samples)

So there was vast variance in the concentration of the toxic substance, dioxin.

In 1984, several companies that manufactured agent orange reached a settlement with veterans who had sued for damages due to agent orange exposure.

The companies involved and percent payment was as follows:

  • Monsanto: 45.5%
  • Dow: 19.5%
  • Diamond Shamrock: 12%
  • Hercules 10%
  • T.H. Agriculture and Nutrition 6%
  • Uniroyal 5%
  • Thompson Chemical 2%

The percentages being "according to a formula based on the amount of Agent Orange each firm produced and how much the substance was contaminated with dioxin".

The above data and quote is from Spartanburg Herald-Journal 13 May 1984 page A5.

In conclusion, Dow produced more agent orange than any other company, Monsanto being a close second. Monsanto settled for the most liability, based upon a formula that also considered how contaminated each company's agent orange was with dioxin.

  • Here it says "Dow supplied about a third of the Agent Orange used by the US military in South Vietnam at a cost of US$7 per gallon. "
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 12:17
  • 2
    There's always Monsanto's web page on the subject: monsanto.com/newsviews/pages/… Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 13:31
  • @Oddthinking Thanks for the edits. I'm not sure if the OP means "primary" in the sense of most agent orange produced (in which case it was Dow) or if it means "primary" in the sense of "When Dow couldn't manufacture it fast enough, the government turned to overflow suppliers" (which is false).
    – DavePhD
    Commented May 1, 2015 at 16:57

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