Barinaga, Marcia. "Agent Orange: Congress Impatient for Answers," Science 245 (21 July
1989), pp. 249-250.
Veterans who were exposed to agent orange in Viet Nam have complained of reactions for years.
Unfortunately, scientists are now to decide whether exposure was a risk for which our
government should take responsibility. Science cannot answer policy questions but, in an
imperfect world, politicians can turn to science as if it could answer such questions.
The Center for Disease Control did an extensive study, used rigorous methods, and concluded
that no conclusions could be reached using data from military records. The American Legion,
using simple questionnaires, got quick reports that the men who were exposed did suffer from
their exposure. Now the Center for Disease Control is criticizing the Legion study and Congress
wants to know which is right.
Somebody, someday soon, is going to have to make a decision. But that decision will not be
based on scientific data, it will be a political decision.