Operation Ranch Hand II — Agent Orange and the Border

What does Agent Orange have to do with the US – Mexico border?  Nothing really, except maybe the historical similarities between Operation Ranch Hand during the Vietnam War and what may begin today on the Tex-Mex border.

The Border Patrol has decided to eliminate some foliage on the border, specifically carrizo cane which is not native to the Laredo region where the first tests would be conducted.  Unfortunately, the herbicide that they plan to use — imazapyr — doesn’t discriminate between the plants you spray it on — it kills them all.  It also has a 17 month half life and is likely to find its way into the ground water not to mention the adjacent Rio Grande river.

So rather than safely remove one species of plant, possibly hundreds will be affected, not to mention the habitats they support.  Of course, the impact on the habitats will be fairly limited, but the possiblity of getting into the drinking water supply of Nuevo Laredo is very high.

The Border Patrol says the herbicide is safe, while others say, more accurately that it is “probably safe” for humans and animals.  Although imazapyr can produce quinolinic acid which is a neurotoxin.

Of course the BP will probably spray the herbicide from helocopters, which will allow for the widest possible impact on the plants and people.  If it enters into the Rio Grande it may also impact the fish there, no to mention the people who eat the fish.

The Border Patrol says it will replant the sprayed areas to make them green again.  Lord knows how many extra agents that will take, not to mention that they must not have read the product literature, since nothing would probably grow for at least a year and a half and possibly much longer.

So you see the relationship between Agent Orange and the border: another great idea by the government with not much thought put into it for which the future effects are virtually unknown and unpredictable.

Of course, it’s the Mexican side they will spray not to imply that the Border Patrol cares less about the Mexican population than the US population…  ??  Who knows??

Maybe the heads of the EPA and the Border Patrol can drink a glass of this stuff for us so we know it’s safe for everyone.


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