In response to the concerns voiced by Vietnam veterans and their families, Congress called upon the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review the scientific evidence on the possible health effects of exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides (Public Law 102-4, enacted on February 6, 1991). The creation of the first NAS Institute of Medicine committee, in 1992, underscored the critical importance of approaching these questions from a non-partisan scientific standpoint. The original Committee to Review the Health Effects in Vietnam Veterans of Exposure to Herbicides realized from the beginning that it could not conduct a credible scientific review without a full understanding of the experiences and perspectives of veterans. Thus, to supplement its standard scientific process, the committee opened several of its meetings to the public in order to allow veterans and other interested individuals to voice their concerns and opinions, to provide personal information about individual exposure to herbicides and associated health effects, and to educate committee members on recent research results and studies still under way. This information provided a meaningful backdrop for the numerous scientific articles that the committee considered.
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