Did Monsanto Spokesperson Jill Montgomery say that Agent Orange doesn't cause serious health long-term effects?

Here is the relevant quote from CorpWatch*:

We are sympathetic with people who believe they have been injured and understand their concern to find the cause, but reliable scientific evidence indicates that Agent Orange is not the cause of serious long-term health effects.

*The quote is at the bottom of the article, the second paragraph underneath the Companies Respond header

  • 5
    A corporate spokesperson downplaying the adverse effects of their products is hardly an extraordinary claim. Note: I'm not saying she's wrong, I don't know, I never studied Agent Orange.
    – user41580
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 12:35
  • @CPerkins exactly — I couldn’t imagine them saying that it does cause long term health effects — I just would like to see if the quote was actually said by Jill Montgomery
    – Jojodmo
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 16:35
  • 2
    One of the big worries about Agent Orange was not the harmfulness of its active ingredient but of the contaminants associated with it such as dioxins (whose long term harms have been greatly exaggerated: they're nasty but not utterly deadly). In a weaselly lawyer-language sense it is possible that agent orange itself if not harmful but the product that contains it is because of those contaminants.
    – matt_black
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 9:13

1 Answer 1


From Monsanto's Web site: (the closing paragraph)

Research on Agent Orange has been conducted for decades and continues today. While a causal connection linking Agent Orange to chronic disease in humans has not been established, some governments have made the decision to provide certain medical benefits to veterans and their families even though there has not been a determination that an individual’s health problem was caused by Agent Orange.

It appears that the the company's position is accurately portrayed.

A related question seems to indicate a contaminate and not the main product is blamed.

  • 4
    The quote in the question indicates evidence of absence. The quote in this answer indicates absence of evidence. Those are very different things.
    – user11643
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 17:36
  • 1
    I think the best evidence of absence that exists in health studies is decades of studies with an absence of evidence so I wouldn't say completely different, but since I wrote the asker has clarified that the speaker's role is more important that the company's so this looks to be the wrong track anyway.
    – user36688
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 18:56
  • 2
    @notstoreboughtdirt I was just noting people's strange propensity to verify the accuracy of someone's statement, rather than the truth of the statement itself.
    – user11643
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 21:56
  • 1
    @fredsbend Your initial comment is misleading; You rarely have hard absence of evidence in science. That's just not how it works. Absence of evidence, after looking systematically, can substitute for evidence of absence (cf NHST, Bayes' theorem). Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 6:48
  • 2
    The related question shines some fascinating light on the subject. It looks like there's a good chance that Agent Orange isn't to blame in this case. Instead, it appears to be an issue of dioxin contaminating the Agent Orange. Likewise, Monsanto produced less than half of the Agent Orange used... but their dioxin contamination level was quite a bit higher than anyone else's, to the point where they were producing well more than half the contaminate. So... technically Agent Orange wasn't to blame, but the substance produced and sold by Monsanto as "Agent Orange" was.
    – Ben Barden
    Commented Sep 8, 2017 at 19:38

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