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A helicopter sprays defoliant on a dense jungle area in the Mekong delta (July 26, 1969).

A defoliant is any chemical sprayed or dusted on plants to cause its leaves to fall off. A classic example of a highly toxic defoliant is Agent Orange, which the British armed forces used abundantly to defoliate regions of Malaya during the Malayan Emergency, and the U.S. armed forces to defoliate regions of Vietnam during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1970.[1][2]

Defoliants differ from herbicides in that the former seeks mainly to strip leaves from plants, and the latter is used to destroy or inhibit the growth of plants.

Defoliants are used in cotton production to aid harvesting.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tow Fawthrop (June 14, 2004). "Vietnam's war against Agent Orange". 
  2. ^ Agent Orange Linked To Skin Cancer Risk
  3. ^ Gwathmey, C.O.; Craig Jr., C.C. (2007). "Defoliants for cotton". In David Pimentel. Encyclopedia of Pest Management 2. CRC Press. p. 135. ISBN 1-4200-5361-2. 

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