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Jan HemmerYour article is an ERROR 70 - 90 % of RADIATION is accumulated with the consumption of FOOD! http://tekknorg.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/51.jpg "only 683 were found to be contaminated at levels exceeding the provisional limits (500 Bq/kg)" I don't feel reassured. Because: “For Cesium 134 – 137. “Dosimeters distributed to children should be replaced by whole body spectrometers periodically transported in schools for controls. This gives a measure of the Cs-137 load. If the values are above 20 Bq/kg bodyweight, pectin courses may be necessary, and the contaminated food must be replaced by absolutely clean food and clean drinks.” Source: http://fukushima.over-blog.fr/article-the-health-impact-of-fukushima-warnings-and-recommendations-by-michel-fernex-98279018.html “The dangerous thing about the water contamination is that the food chains are much longer there than on land. Among the many steps in the water to accumulate more and more radioactive substances in the organisms. This means that contamination in fish at the end of the food chain is much higher than the water in which they swim” translated from: http://www.n-tv.de/politik/Fukushima-ist-nicht-ueberstanden-article5731966.html Plankton takes in the 200,000 time of a radioactive substance: http://life-upgrade.com/DATA/FUKUSHIMA-SEA-BECQUEREL.jpg nonsense: "This suggests that unless there are new hydrogen explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, it is not likely that food grown from now on will be highly contaminated, or at least the number of such cases will be very limited." 40,000 Tillion Becquerel of Cesium Radionuclide group "only" by Reactor 1 in Fukushima. 70% into sea (longer food chains) and 30& into soil: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201202290025 Fukushima is immortal: http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/immortal-fukushima/ German “foodwatch”: Lower japanese 500 Bequerel radiation limit for Food to 16 Bequerel! http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/german-foodwatch-lower-japanese-500-bequerel-radiation-limit-for-food-to-16-bequerel/ You don't need to ask an expert, watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3AIzaOO_pE Martin J Frid slaps Fukushima victims in the face writing: ""For all the losses imposed by the 3.11 disaster, an extraordinary fact is that Japan enjoys high levels of food safety, and foods from Japan can continue to be appreciated at home and abroad, after continued careful testing." Good lord!
Yayoi Kooizumihttps://www.facebook.com/japanfocus/posts/298832123517916?notif_t=share_wall_create <- shows comments to this article from apj facebook page
Izumi TanakaI am not a scholar and I cannot write a well-formatted counter argument to Mr.Frid's view. But I do not agree that it is safe to eat here in Japan. There's no careful testing done by the government as far as I understand. I have heard that only a very few sample are measured. Informed Japanese citizens are only buying vegetables from western half of Japan, and baking their own bread instead of buying from a shop. And it is not from a baseless fear. We are truly concerned about internal exposure. If the Japanese government follows a recommendation issued by German Society for Radiological Protection, the limit of 4 Bq/kg for children and 8 Bq/kg for adults, then we might be able to have a slight relief. And if they measure more samples, preferrably all. Dr.Yuri Bandazhevsky, a scientist who was jailed by Belarussian authorities for researching on the health effects of Chernobyl contamination, has written that 20Bq/kg in a child's heart would be enough to cause a heart attack or other problem of the heart in the child. Even ICRP admits that if you continue to eat 10 Bq/kg a day, it would reach 1,000 Bq/kg in 200 days. In Bandazhevsky's paper, one reads about cases of sudden deaths in adults, and levels in their organs(kidney or heart) is only several hundred Bq. So the problem, it seems, is that comparing the current Japanese safety standard with US or Codex doesn't give us any assurance. The governments and internationally famous organizations are very much behind Bandazhevsky or German Society for Radiological Protection. It also seems that science has been dominated by the powerful nuclear lobby. If Mr.Frid lives in Japan or if he travels here, I would recommend him not to eat out in the restaurants unless absolutely necessary or unless you know where the food is from, because many restaurants are following the government's campaign "eat Fukushima, support Fukushima". It is not safe for his health. Farmers and citizens of Japan must unite and demand a better standard and better food-testing system, but it's a long way to go. Thank you for reading this comment.
Satoko Oka NorimatsuI am surprised that this article treats Japanese government's provisional standards of radiation levels as absolute "safety" standards without criticism, or without even any discussion and reflection of the criticisms on the issue around the nation and beyond since 311. In the Say-Peace Project piece http://japanfocus.org/-Say_Peace-Project/3549, we presented international standards,including Ukraine, Belarus, and the recommendation by the German Society for Radiation Protection (not giving food or drink that contain more than 4 Bq/kg of cesium-137 to infants, children, or young people), but this article does not seem to pay consideration to those standards established through the experience of Chernobyl. Also note the international comparison of the Iodine-131 level in drinking water. Japan's provisional standard was 300 Bq/L for adults and 100 for infants, whereas the standard by WHO, US EPA, Ukraine is 10, .111, and 2, respectively. The very fact that the Japanese government raises allowable standards and later on lowers them suggest that government sets those standards from the industry and economic efficiency perspectives, not from that of consumer safety, particularly that of children. Or else government would not be able to justify changing suddenly from 370 Bq to 500 Bq then 500 to 100 overnight. Human bodies and their responses to radiation do not change in the way government changes those "safety standards," so one who cares about safety by definition needs to provide critical assessment of government standards. I call for the author's further discussion on the food safety issue with consideration to alternative views to the government's.
M J FridThank you for the comments, you bring up very good points. I urge readers to check Jan's links. Izumi, if you look at the data, except for Fukushima and a few more places nearby, you get "ND" which means "Not detected" so you can safely eat food from the rest of Japan, if you don't want to be in doubt. But even in Fukushima there are regions that have ND for their foods, and they are doing their best to manage. Satoko, I didn't intend for this paper to be a discussion about the pros and cons of the old or new standards, and I agree that it is a topic that should be debated. No one is saying that these are "absolute safety standards" but rather a way forward from the mess we are in due to the March 11 nuclear disaster (which was a tragedy and a crime against humanity). Having said that, the new limits are a step in the right direction, and will indeed protect consumers and children to a higher degree. The government didn't suddenly change the limits, they have been under debate a lot over the past year, and the change was announced in due time so that everyone can adjust. I think it is very interesting to look at the available data from 120,000 samples (19,000 in Fukushima). You can also check the levels in drinking water, the data is available, and as far as I can tell, there is no Iodine-131 thus it is not a problem. If you have other data, let me know! Food data: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/topics/2011eq/dl/09Mar2012_Sum_up.pdf & Water data: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/topics/2011eq/watersupply.html Again, thanks for the comments, and I apologize if I didn't cover a lot of ground in this brief paper. My intention was only to look at the available food testing data and help people make some sense of it.
Aiko KojimaAlthough I am personally disturbed by the absence of discussion regarding the reliability of the government's standards itself, too, putting it aside, for Mr. Frid clarified that it was beyond the scope of this paper in his comment, I would like to raise two questions. ## One is regarding the Figure 4 in the paper. This reminds me the article issued in Mainichi Shinbun last December (http://mainichi.jp/life/food/archive/news/2011/12/20111219ddm013100039000c.html). As in this article, Codex standards as well as EU standards appear "high", because they are based on the assumption that 10% of all foods are contaminated, while Japanese standards, both the old and the new, is based on the assumption that 50% of all foods are contaminated. ## EU standards (EURATOM No. 3954/87) is the regulation for imported food following a nuclear emergency, and this standards was applied to foods imported from Japan by Commission Implementing Regulation No.297/2011 on March 25th, 2011. (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:080:0005:0008:EN:PDF). The numbers shown in Fig.4 are those in 3954/87, which is the standards for imported foods from the region which had a nuclear emergency, as it was applied to foods from Japan after Fukushima by 297/2011. ## Given the difference of assumed proportion of contaminated food to the total consumption, I think that the comparison presented in Fig.4 is not valid, or at least is misleading for it gives an impression as if Japanese standards is considerably strict among other international standards. ## Moreover, 297/2011 was amended a month later by Commission Implementing Regulation No. 351/2011 (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:097:0020:0023:EN:PDF), namely, the standards for foods imported from Japan was amended to ensure consistency with levels applied in Japan. Thus the Caesium standards got tightened, respectively, foods for infants (400 -> 200), Milk and dairy products (1000 -> 200), Other foodstuffs (1250 -> 500), despite that the assumed proportion to the total consumption is much smaller than that in Japan. ## My second question is regarding "ND" which Mr. Frid talked about in his comment. Mr. Frid says "ND" means "you can safely eat", but "ND" should not be confound with the safeness of food. Because a) "ND" depends on the detection limit of each test method, and b) thus it does not mean "0" existence of radionuclide, and according to the linear no-threshold model (though there are contesting models, given that scientists have not yet reached to the definite conclusion, the validity of LNT model should not be disregarded), radiation is harmful for human body no matter how small its dose is. ## Data released by Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) are obtained through tests carried by each municipality. On September 29th, 2011 MHLW notified to municipalities that thereafter those cases whose radionuclide level was less than the detection limit should be reported as " < actual number of detection limit", instead of "ND". This change of policy took a little time but gradually got prevailed, and the term "ND" can no longer be found as of November test results (issued in December, http://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/houdou/2r9852000001m9tl-att/2r98520000020pkj.pdf). ## Thanks to this policy change, we can now know the detection limit of each test at a glance, which varies from less than 1 bq/kg to as high as 50 bq/kg. This is one of reasons why Citizen's Radioactivity Measuring Stations are spreading throughout the country. Besides that the official testing is very limited sample measuring, the minimum level detected in official tests can be different 50 times as much between municipalities and employed methods. This is not clearly a kind of benchmark for people to determine the safeness of given food.
M J FridAgain, I appreciate the new links and can only urge readers to check out Dr. Kojima's many suggestions for further reading, they are very valuable to the discussion. About the "ND" or "Not detected" it is clear that measuring equipment have limits at very low levels of radiation. Rather than using the "<" mark and give us a value, I think "ND" is more helpful, in case they provide their error range of the measuring equipment. Many detectors give a plus-minus reading of the range of error, and thus "ND" is standard practice. But, ok, I understand that people may prefer the "<" mark. However, for future studies of all the data that is now being accumulated, we will certainly need the error range to make statistical analysis. Note that FDA data of Japanese food imported to the US still use the concept of "ND" (Updated on March 19, 2012): "As of March 14th, FDA import investigators had performed 31,007 field examinations for radionuclide contamination. FDA had tested 1257 samples, 194 which were seafood or seafood products. 1256 samples had no Iodine-131, Cesium-134, Cesium-137, or other gamma-ray emitting radionuclides of concern. 1 sample was found to contain detectable levels of Cesium, but was below the established Derived Intervention Level (DIL) and posed no public health concern." http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm247403.htm#sofar
Roy WarnerThanks for writing this article. I appreciate your work. But I do have some concerns about the conclusions. Testing is primarily left up to producer associations that will make more profit if the test is negative. Has the government set up its own testing stations staffed by its own employees everywhere that testing is conducted? I could be wrong but I don't think so. (Very few people in Japan can trust even government employees now.) Why is withholding contaminated food from the market still voluntary? Why isn't it mandatory? I know why. If it's mandatory, the government has to pay farmers. The government is mainly concerned about limiting its liability. Testing is concentrated on Fukushima, when parts of Gunma and Tochigi have contamination levels just as high as the western half of Fukushima. The level of contamination can vary widely even in one field. Now producers and testers have a much better idea of what kind of topography is likely to concentrate caesium than they did at first, so they can easily harvest the whole crop and only test areas they know are less likely to be contaminated. Then they can claim it is all safe. Contamination in seafood will get worse before it gets better, as it goes up the food chain. The chance of more releases into the ocean is also high. Also, if you look at maps of radioactive fallout that have been available for months, it is not strange that even Shizuoka was contaminated. Chernobyl even contaminated Sweden, which is farther than Fukushima is from Shizuoka.
Roy WarnerIf I may, the following quote is from Bloomberg: "Checks conducted nationwide so far are only 1 percent of what Belarus checked in the past year, a quarter century after the Chernobyl disaster, according to Nobutaka Ishida, a researcher at Norinchukin Research Institute." http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-03-18/fukushima-farmers-face-decades-of-tainted-crops-as-fears-linger That tells me that the Japanese government is not serious at all about protecting consumers from radioactive contamination. To be fair, the information in this article contradicts my assertions that officials aren't doing the testing and that contaminated food over the limit is only voluntarily stopped. But I have read numerous articles that contain different descriptions of the testing procedures, some involving self-policing by producer organisations and voluntary restraints. There seems to be a patchwork of methods. Is that correct? If so, it is not the best way to gain consumers' trust.
M J FridRoy, thanks for your comments. Let me just say that if you read Japanese, you can find details about which institute is doing the testing on the different websites of each prefecture and city. Testing is not just concentrated on Fukushima, but ongoing in all areas, not only in Tohoku but all over Japan, as I mention in my article (120,000 food samples tested so far). For example, Aizu in Fukushima has its own testing over at City Hall. They publish the data (in Japanese), so I see no reason that there should be no doubt about the validity, http://www.city.aizuwakamatsu.fukushima.jp/ja/sangyo/fuhyou_taisaku/nousanbutsu.htm
Roy WarnerThe Asahi Asia and Japan Watch says that Japanese nuclear regulatory authorities opposed the IAEA's proposal in 2005 to define a 300 kilometer radius around 1 gigawatt reactors for regulation of food after a nuclear accident. "The IAEA in February 2005 drew up a draft safety standard, which said that food intake regulations should be prepared within a 300-kilometer radius of a 1-gigawatt class nuclear power plant in case of a major accident." Since Shizuoka is within that range, we can see that the IAEA recognised the dangers of a nuclear accident to the food supply at least that far, but Japan rejected the opportunity to plan for safe food in case of an accident. The article quotes Hideaki Tsuzuku, the director of the Radiation Protection and Accident Management Division at the NSC:"Retrospectively, 300 km was not too large. We knew, from the Chernobyl experience, that radioactive substances below levels that are harmful to human bodies can be condensed in plants and domestic animals." http://ex-skf.blogspot.jp/ summarises and discusses the article, adding this comment "We all know what happened last year. Instead of banning the shipment of agricultural products within the 300-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuke Plant, the government encouraged the production, encouraged the shipment, and encouraged people to buy the products to help support farmers. They sample-tested vegetables, one vegetable from one farm in one city, to assure people the entire shipment from the entire city was safe. Before designating the highly contaminated Iitate-mura and Namie-machi in Fukushima Prefecture as "planned evacuation zone", the government encouraged cattle farmers to sell their cattle quickly." Japan's government had the chance to protect Japan's residents from food contaminated with radioactive substances, but it seems to have refused to do so for political reasons.
M J FridCorrection: In my previous comment, I meant to say: "I see no reason that there should be ANY doubt about the validity" since most of the testing is done at public, not private institutes and by city governments at the local level. Roy, in response to your next comment about a 300 km zone, that would not respond to the real conditions (IAEA's food intake regulations would not have meant that all foods had been banned anyway).
Jan HemmerTo end this once and for all, have a look at the latest Children Radiation Maps, which show, that Children in CLEAN areas are irradiated with 0 - 20 Bc Cs137 per body Kg and 20 - 1000 bq and even more, 26 years after the Chernobyl explosions: http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/children-radiation-maps-2/ Why? FOOD. Food Safety kills with norms. 3 year old girls visit the gynecologist in Belarus. Children need absolutely CLEAN food: http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/japanese-children-cancer-outlook-children-need-absolutely-clean-food/ Why explains Prof. Bandashevzky: “cesium is easy to accumulate in the heart” “50 Becquerel break your heart rhythm at 20 to 30 becquerel per kilogram of body weight” (CHILDREN!) “if, during pregnancy, there is more than 200 becquerel per kilogram of cesium in the placenta it can lead to sudden death of the child” HERE: http://tekknorg.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/%E5%B0%82%E9%96%80%E5%AE%B6-%E3%83%A6%E3%83%BC%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC%E3%83%BB%E3%83%90%E3%83%B3%E3%83%80%E3%82%B8%E3%82%A7%E3%83%95%E3%82%B9%E3%82%AD%E3%83%BC-%E6%97%A5%E6%9C%AC-belarusian-chernobyl-and-c/