When calves in the Shoalhaven started being born with deformities, it didn't take long before the cause was found - Agent Orange (245T).
This months marks 40 years since calls began to be made to put an end to Shoalhaven Council using the toxic herbicide on blackberries. At the time it was an approved chemical by the Australian Government.
In 1979 Shoalhaven mayor and Terara dairy farmer, Greg Watson told the Shoalhaven and Nowra News he believed over the past five years, Agent Orange had been responsible for 45 cases of abnormal births on his farm.
He said the deformities were mainly in the calves' legs which were bent and twisted back, forcing them to walk on their knees.
Watson said the deformities always showed up three or four months after the paddocks had been sprayed.
In some cases, cows had simply been in fields adjacent to those sprayed and must've eaten grass through the fence.
Watson said when he realised what was happening, he took care to spray only within six to ten feet of fences where cows were grazing.
The abnormalities stopped.
In Western Australia, the close relative of Agent Orange, 24D was being used. Both contained dioxin.
The deformities were mainly in the calves' legs which were bent and twisted back, forcing them to walk on their knees.Mayor Greg Watson
Geraldton goat farmer Elsie Whyatt blamed the crop spray for deformities in her kid flock. She'd been breeding goats for 26 years with no problems, but after a nearby tomato field was sprayed with 24D a range of problems occurred.
Two premature births occurred from two mothers. One was stillborn, the other had deformed legs and died two days later. Another kid was born with no back passage and another was delivered by cesarean after a vet had to cut off its two heads. Another had been dead in its mother's womb for two months.
Despite the Australian Government maintaining the stance that the chemicals were safe if used properly, two New South Wales councils, Blue Mountains and Campbelltown, soon scrapped its use.
Mayor Watson agreed it should be stopped.
"If council continues spraying blackberries with 245T, pregnant women could inadvertently pick them or it could find its way into watercourses where animals or campers drink," he told the Shoalhaven and Nowra News.
"I do not think a public authority should be using it."
The 245T and 24D controversy started soon after the Vietnam War. The Americans used powerful mixture of the two, rich in dioxin, to strip vast tracts of heavily vegetated land.
Serious birth defects soon began showing up in the Vietnamese population.
Information provided by Shoalhaven Historical Society