Arthur William Galston (1920–2008)
Arthur W. Galston studied plant hormones in the United States during the late-twentieth century. His dissertation on the flowering process of soybean plants led others to develop Agent Orange, the most widely employed herbicide during the Vietnam War, used to defoliate forests and eliminate enemy cover and food sources. Galston protested the spraying of those defoliants in Vietnam, as they could be harmful to humans, animals, and the environment. Toxicological research conducted in 1967 revealed that Agent Orange contained a synthetic compound called dioxin, an accidental pollutant that caused birth defects, which led to the discontinuation of Agent Orange in Vietnam in 1971. Galston’s predictions of Agent Orange’s toxicity were confirmed in the 1980s when studies linked Agent Orange to the illnesses of Vietnam veterans and to their children.