Feb 022024

Carol Van Strum’s book, “A Bitter Fog“, is one I’ll not forget.  I learned a lot.  I am very happy for Carol that she received this Award.

UPDATE:   It’s Feb 2, 2024; I’m reading RFK’s book, The Wuhan Cover-Up.  It’s about American chemical and biological warfare.  It seems that not much has changed.  But maybe in this round of the fight we’ll take them to their knees.

A Bitter Fog: Herbicides & Human Rights  (1983 original book)
A Bitter Fog is the true story of people fighting to protect their families and homes from Agent Orange and other poisons sprayed on them from the air. This book tells the story of ordinary people who defied profiteering corporations and indifferent government agencies. Meticulous research exposes deception and outright fraud by chemical companies to keep profiting from herbicides they knew were toxic and government complicity in covering up severe human health problems and environmental damage.

The award-winning PBS documentary film The People vs. Agent Orange is based in large part on material first revealed in A Bitter Fog. It was awarded the Christopher Award, which is presented to writers whose works “affirm the highest values of the human spirit.”

This new edition of A Bitter Fog adds a brief update on the fight for environmental justice and numerous photographs that add a new perspective to the story.

Biography, thanks to Wikipedia:

Carol Van Strum (née Scott; born 1940) is an American environmental activist who since 1975 has fought against the spraying of herbicides, including Agent Orange, in the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon. Her subsequent research, including over 20,000 documents revealing corporate and government cover-ups, was donated to the Poison Papers project in 2017. In 2018, Van Strum received the David Brower Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to forestry policy favoring selective harvest without the use of herbicides.

Van Strum moved to Siuslaw National Forest in 1975. Shortly afterwards, helicopters sprayed the forests and water courses in the area with phenoxy herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, the 50-50 mixture used in Agent Orange (including surplus Agent Orange itself after it was banned by the military in Vietnam).[1] Concerned by the apparent resultant negative effects on their family, animals and plants, Van Strum, her husband Steve and their neighbours co-founded Citizens Against Toxic Sprays (CATS).[1] It was formed to give forest dwellers a united voice against the United States Forest Service, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Dow Chemical Company, manufacturer of the herbicides.[2] CATS gathered information from residents and undertook a community-wide public health survey.[1] Together with the Oregon Environmental Council and the Hoedads Reforestation Cooperative they filed a lawsuit against the US Forest Service in 1976 claiming that an environmental-impact statement for the herbicides was insufficient. U.S. District Judge Otto Richard Skopil Jr. issued an order in March 1977 to halt all spraying of 2,4,5-T in the Siuslaw National Forest until deficiencies in the statement were cleared up, thus effectively eliminating the spray program for a year.[3][4] Although the ban was rescinded two years later, the work by Van Strum and others contributed to final cancellation of all 2,4,5-T registrations by EPA and a new national forest policy that favors selective harvests without herbicides.[2]

In 1983, Van Strum wrote A Bitter Fog: Herbicides and Human Rights.[1] The book details widespread fraud in the safety testing of all pesticides used in forestry and a decade long struggle to end use of dioxin-contaminated and all other herbicides on the forests of Oregon, by taking on the chemical and timber companies as well as government agencies.[1][5]

In 1987 Van Strum and Paul Merrell wrote No Margin of Safety: a preliminary report on dioxin pollution and the need for emergency action in the pulp and paper industry. Originally published by Greenpeace, it is now available within the pages of another volume.[6]

Over four decades of research and work by Van Strum on pesticide and poison cases, including lawsuits against the Forest Service, litigation by Agent Orange veterans, personal injury cases by exposed workers, and numerous other cases involving PCBs and dioxin, Van Strum amassed over 20,000 documents which she stored in a barn on her property.[7][8] In 2017, she donated these to the Poison Papers digitalisation project. The papers include scientific reports, evidence submitted in courts of law, internal and external correspondence of chemical companies such as DOW and Monsanto, and of government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, often gathered via freedom of information requests. The documents are said to reveal corporate and government cover-ups of dioxin studies, collusion enabling continued registration of pesticides based on fraudulent or nonexistent studies, and decisions to continue marketing known carcinogens, mutagens and teratogens.[9]

The Poison Papers, also available with continuing additions through Columbia University‘s Toxic Docs program are now available online for use by anyone seeking information on the dangers of using harmful chemicals in aerial herbicide spraying and attempts to end such spraying.[10]

Van Strum and Tran To Nga, a Franco-Vietnamese environmental activist,[11] appeared in the 2020 film The People vs. Agent Orange.[11] The two have been involved in attempting to stop companies from producing, spraying, burning and dumping toxic defoliants such as those contained in Agent Orange and to force accountability for the harmful effects of these.[11] Because of the once-prolific production, use and dumping of these chemicals and their long half-life, they can now be found in the soil, water, air and in living organisms, in many countries.[11]

In 2017 a ban against the spraying of pesticides on private timberland in Lincoln County was approved by voters.[12] The ban was overturned two years later by the state.[13] The Lincoln County Community Rights group asked Van Strum to be the spokesperson for the Siletz River ecosystem at the Oregon Court of Appeal in a challenge to the rescinding of the ban.[14] In June 2021, the Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s ruling without comment.[15]


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