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Sunday, March 10, 2002, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Press Statement on Joint Research on Agent Orange/Dioxin
The US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is pleased to report on the excellent US-Vietnam scientific conference on Human Health and Environmental Effects of Agent Orange/Dioxin held March 3-6 in Hanoi and the strengthening of the cooperative efforts between the US and Vietnam. As a result of this conference and further discussions , Dr. Anne Sassaman, Director of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training and Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Sinh, General Director of The National Environmental Agency of Vietnam today signed a document outlining the framework for research on human health and the environmental effects of Agent Orange/dioxin. The memorandum of understanding specifies activities that will guide our future joint research collaborations. Joint discussions will continue to further establish the process and the guidelines that will facilitate the continuing exchange.
"This agreement and the scientific conference that preceded it mark a new step forward in our relations with Vietnam. It is too soon to predict what the eventual benefits will be, but it is certain that Americans and Vietnamese working together in pursuit of a common interest can achieve a great deal, as we have shown once again today. The scientists from both countries who hammered out this agreement deserve a great deal of credit for keeping their common goal clearly in focus as they worked to craft a document in which they can all take pride," said US Ambassador to Vietnam, Raymond Burghardt.
"This framework for collaboration is an important step forward", said Dr. Sassaman. "The real difficulties lie ahead; agreeing to do the research is the easy part. The more difficult task will be to develop research studies that are definitive and address the underlying causes of disease in Vietnam. "
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/), a part of the federal National Institutes of Health (http://www.nih.gov/) , has been the lead US government agency in establishing for the US a cooperative research program on Agent Orange/dioxin with the Vietnamese government agencies. Dr. Christopher Portier, Director of NIEHS' Environmental Toxicology Program, chaired the US organizing committee for the March 3-6 joint scientific conference. This conference was one of two projects agreed upon at the last US-Vietnamese government meeting in Hanoi in July 2001.