Saturday, July 16, 2011

#Fukushima Cattle Farmers Used Rice Hay Because It Wasn't Regulated

143 meat cows from Fukushima went to at least 35 prefectures (out of 47) and counting (Kyodo News English 7/17/2011). Assuming 300 kg per cow, and you have 43 tonnes of beef plus unknown amount of cows' innards (kidney, liver, heart, etc.) that the Japanese also eat.

All these cows were fed with radioactive rice hay. The rice growers sold the rice hay, and the cattle farmers fed the rice hay, because there was no government regulation on radiation concerning the storage, sale, and use of the rice hay.

The authorities will probably have to find out where else the radioactive rice hay has been sold. The rice hay in Koriyama City in Fukushima tested 500,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, enough to contaminate non-contaminated cows elsewhere in Japan.

From Fukushima Minyu (7/16/2011):


Regarding the high level of radioactive cesium detected from the rice hay that was fed to the meat cows at a cattle farm in Asakawa-machi, it was revealed on July 15 that the rice producer group in Shirakawa City (which is located adjacent to Asakawa-machi) sold the rice hay to the cattle farm. Both the cattle farm in Asakawa-machi and the rice producer group in Shirakawa City say there was no instruction from the national government or the Fukushima prefectural government regarding the storage and the sale of the rice hay.


The radiation testing of cattle feed has been done only on grass feed that has grown after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, but the rice hay was never considered for testing. It turned out that the high level of cesium detected in the meat cows from Minami-Soma City was also due to the rice hay fed to the cows. The government's lax testing procedure is now coming to light.

I do have sympathy for cattle farmers and their suppliers in Tohoku, but when I read the news I am disappointed that they simply followed the guidance (in this case the lack thereof) from the government and not used their common sense that the hay sitting outside or rolled after the Fukushima accident might be contaminated with radioactive materials and it would be better to treat it the same way as the grass feed, which was regulated. Instead, they decided to use the rice hay, or sell it, because the government didn't have any rule on it.

I also understand the farmers' situation that there was nothing else to feed their cows, since the supply of cattle feed got interrupted by the earthquake/tsunami and then by the Fukushima accident. So they were trying to find a way to feed their cows, and they found the rice hay, which was outside the regulation. So they fed the cows with the rice hay and hoped for the best.

If the grass feed that was growing outside since the accident was contaminated, it doesn't take much imagination to figure out that the same radioactive materials might be also falling on the rice hay.

You may ask, "What should they have done, then? Let the cows starve?"

I don't know. But they should have raised bloody hell demanding the government, the prefecture, TEPCO, anyone at all anywhere, provide them with clean feed. Instead, they persevered, quietly figured out the way to save the cows. A very Japanese way.

However, there's another "baseless rumor" floating around: That the radioactive rice hay is a red herring, and the real culprit is the well water that the cows had been drinking. But the government, both national and prefectural, would dare not say that and dare not test it because they are planning on forcing people back into these areas with the declaration of the "step 1" of TEPCO's "roadmap" having been successfully completed.


Anonymous said...

I have ZERO sympathy for farmers that knowingly/ignorantly sell their contaminated produce. They have a responsibility to stop selling their goods from this contaminated area even if it means them starving and becoming homeless. To sell these goods to people who will in turn become contaminated, sick and die is murder. There is no other way to look at it.

This is truly disgusting at all levels and we can thank TEPCO and the government for this.

When the world wises up and no longer buys ANY Japanese products Japan and their people can thank their idiot leaders for their deceptive ways that caused others to stay away.

Anonymous said...

People will be getting sick soon...

netudiant said...

This is nonsense. Nobody is about to get sick soon.
The contamination levels are in the range where we believe that there is a high likelihood that there will be some physical damage, but we do not know how to measure it other than statistically.
The main impact of this little debacle is that it illustrates the blinkered perspective of the bureaucracy and the cunning of the farmers. Because the bureaucrats did not act to monitor/quarantine products from the area, rice straw was used as fodder.
Now the reputation of that prefectures products is destroyed. Not good for anyone, including the farmers.
PS Most radio nucleotides bind very well to soil. I'd be surprised if the well water was a problem.

Anonymous said...

BTW: Shiitake culture substrates are made of sawdust and (rice) straw. Do we see a pattern here?

Anonymous said...


did you see the study released by the criirad, a french independant NGO which tests for radiation ?

french :

f4eru at

Anonymous said...


Sometimes reading your comments is like watching a Neural Net 'learn' something.

Anonymous said...

"There's another "baseless rumor" floating around: That the radioactive rice hay is a red herring, and the real culprit is the well water that the cows had been drinking. But the government, both national and prefectural, would dare not say that and dare not test it because they are planning on forcing people back into these areas."

This is exactly what I was thinking.
(I am the one posted on previous threads about the rice hay story sounding fishy & the rice hay info from UC Davis)

FigNewton said...

If the rice hay is contaminated beyond the limit, why wouldn't every vegetable product from the area also be contaminated? Oh, yeah. Because they're testing all produce before shipping.. Oh, wait. They're not.

Once again, Japanese indecision during an emergency shows it's affect.
Not that my country would've been much better (better in some areas, worse in others), but this could have been avoided by establishing firm evacuation zones early and systematic testing of goods beyond it. An act, while costly and challenging initially, looks pretty cheap and simple now.

A boycott of Japanese goods is the only way the government will 'get it'. I've been 'boycotting' anything from the stricken area since the quake. Not because I hate the people there, but because I know the Japanese government and 'leaders' from past scandals on foodstuff. They get away with these actions because the Japanese people let them, and this will be no different.

I love Japan and it's people, but this is a very sad time. I'm trying not to leave in anger, but it's becoming a challenge.

@ortospace said...

Don't remember if I read it here or on twitter however let me say it again: I agree with somebody who said there should be a plan behind the shipment and sale of all these radioactive goods, burning of radioactive garbage and sludge, etc... They're making epidemiological research impossible or meaningless: when most population of Japan will have absorbed some quantities of radiation, the difference of the avg. Japanese in the incidence of various illnesses, with people exposed in Fukushima will be lower, so Gov could eventually say: "See, we were right, there's no significant statistical difference between Fukushima and the rest of the Country..."

Anonymous said...

"When the world wises up and no longer buys ANY Japanese products Japan and their people can thank their idiot leaders for their deceptive ways that caused others to stay away."

And japanese locals purchasing non-contaminated imported products at higher black-market prices might be the first indication of the developing long-term food-contamination problem.

I hope ex-skf gets the hat-tip for providing information on the impending japanese higher-black-market-prices for imported meat-fish-produce: the problem is obvious, hiding in plain sight.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Concrete man here:

I gave one of Ex-SKF's articles to my students (great reporting from Ultra Man!)

A student of mine at a prestigious women's college in Tokyo gave her end of semester presentation about social networking internet sites and the Tohoku disaster. Her dream is to create a "social revolution" and also invent a new social networking tool (not my idea of fun, but hey, I'm just an old codger). But the part that struck me blind was when she expressed extreme right wing views about not caring about the people in Fukushima, since the nuclear disaster was their fault for allowing the plants to be built. Technically she has a point but it is grossly simplistic and really absurd, and hypocritically. Aha, but if she can get famous from appearing to help the Tohoku refugees with a new social networking site it might be worth it to her. Just goes to show you the cynical Lady Gaga like mentality of "all for me and devil take the hindmost" that prevails today in Japan (and elsewhere I am sure).

Mike said...

I have ZERO...LESS THAN ZERO sympathy for the farmers. Given all the news out, even the really stupid farmers must have guessed that "no regulation" = "possibly contaminated." But probably all they thought of was "cheap." In their intentional oversight, they've poisoned untold numbers of people, including those poor schoolchildren in Yokohama. Press reckless endangerment charges on them and make an example.

Coincidentally, just the other day on TV I saw some special with a cow farmer in the doldrums about his situation. They had long, drawn out shots of him looking sadly at his bank statements. Screw him. I hope the next shots are of a few farmers looking sullen through their jail cell bars...along with their cell mates from TEPCO, Kyushu Power and a few from Kan's office.

I hope this latest news helps people realize that it's not just the big corporations that are happy to screw over their fellow Japanese in the name of a quick Yen -- everybody is in on the act!

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's fair to blame farmers. Especially, farmers in places far from Fukushima-1 Plant. Their areas are not even any kind of evacuation zones. So they must have led quite a normal life even after the accident. I remember reading an article about Asakawa-cho farmer who was so surprised to know that his neighborhood was that contaminated. Besides, this particular farmer voluntarily asked for inspection on his farm.

These farmers weren't given accurate information. If they are older rural people, obtaining information only from Yomiuri Shinbun and TV, with no access to the internet, if they are fed with inaccurate information by national government, prefectural government, and perhaps by people from local farmers association, if they have continued their normal life even after the accident because their areas are far away, then it's understandable that they would do what they did. I don't think it's fair to assume that such farmers had cunning intentions.

Hélios said...

I've got a link that show anormal "camelia japonica" leaves since plant's accident (it is written in japanese, but Mr Arevamirpal may understand):

Anonymous said...

your blog is NOT allowing me to post. Replacing the animals feed with 10% bentonite clay removes most of the radiation before the body can absorb it.

Anonymous said...


And where is the main stream media???

Anonymous said...

@ anon 11:59 PM

The point is not that there are countermeasures. We all know there are plenty of things that could be done to prevent or respond to contamination. The point is that things are permitted to happen by inaction.

selfsovereign said...

After chernobyl blanketed parts of europes grazing pastures, 10% of the feed given to sheep was replaced with moistened BENTONITE clay. Side effects are increased thirst. Bentonite is a neutron absorber. Sheep given bentonite absorbed less than 8% of the radiation. Bentonite is only $8.00 for 50# at farm/feed stores.PLEASE pass this on. We love this webite!

Anonymous said...


I read Japanese and this is NOT due to the mutation caused by fukushima's accident. This vaiant is called "Kingyoba Tsubaki" in Japanese and has been around at least since Edo era.

Anonymous said...

@concrete man, it's sad to hear that the Japan's younger generation is just as dumb as the older ones. Just mimicking what's cool in the US. Those DPJ politicians mimicking "community organizing" and your student following "social networking" fad.

I wonder if they even think for themselves anymore.

@anon at 7:49PM, farmers don't need to have "cunning intentions". All they did was to follow the ministry's instruction carefully and avoid grass feed, and that ended up causing the meat to get radioactive. Since the ministry or prefecture didn't say anything about rice hay, farmers didn't even stop to think, "Gee, if grass feed is contaminated with radiation, maybe rice hay's also contaminated, since they were both outside at the same time...Maybe I should ask..."

Hélios said...

To anon at 12:51,
Thanks for your answer.
I'd like to know what is "Edo era" ? Some more explanations, please ?

Anonymous said...

Hilo Farmers used Cesium-Milk for their Bottom Line

"For example, when radioactive cesium-137 was found in milk in Hilo, Hawaii, Lynn Nakasone, administrator of the Health Department’s Environmental Health Services Division, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser: ”There’s no question the milk is safe.”

Nakasone had little alternative but to say that. She wasn’t about to dump thousands of gallons of milk that represented the livelihood of local dairymen, .."

".. interesting that the EPA’s standard for radionuclides in drinking water is so much more conservative than the FDA’s standard for radionuclides in food.

The two agencies anticipate different endurances of exposure — long-term in the EPA’s view, short-term in FDA’s. But faced with the commercial implications of its actions, FDA tolerates a higher level of mortality than EPA does."

Anonymous said...

"Officials from both agencies—as well as many state governments—explain the difference in terms of time: EPA assumes long-term exposure over 70 years. FDA assumes you’re encountering the radiation all at once."

"From FDA’s Radiation Safety FAQ:
.. At this time, theoretical models do not indicate that significant amounts of radiation will reach the U.S. coast or affect U.S. fishing waters."


I seem to recall a recent article stating that West Coast tuna are harvested there after spending the summer months .. of the east coast of Japan.

Another difference, the FDA has allowed itself to become a 'militant' enforcer, the EPA is more resistant to such 'pressures'.

Anonymous said...

"On September 29, 1957, at 4:20 p.m., an enormous explosion in a tank containing highly radioactive waste occurred in the Mayak nuclear weapons plant in the southern Ural mountains of the Soviet Union. The fallout plume spread strontium-90 and other dangerous radionuclides over about 15,000 square kilometers, which remain contaminated to this day.

Food stores were closed, and more than 1,000 tons of food dumped. Farming was stopped for more than two decades on about 150,000 acres. .."

".. Surprisingly, [?] the West assisted the Soviet government in its cover-up."

".. According to a 1959 CIA document, the agency knew that an accident had occurred that resulted in food stores being closed. The resulting food shortages created lines that were “reminiscent of the worst shortages during World War II.” They also knew that high officials had been “wearing small radiation counters” while the public had no protection.

Yet, the CIA did not publicize the accident, .."

".. The opinion in military circles was that the public in the United States had a “hysterical and alarmist complex” about radiation that needed to be corrected .."


Anonymous said...


"Edo era" is the period between 1603 and 1868.

By the way, this is the period when Japan closed itself to the foreign countries and unprescedented domestic peace lasted for more than 250 years. I guess many of the "rebellious DNA" died out during this period, which would lead to the culture where conformity and harmony are highly valued.

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly, after Chernobyl, the Army sent in 100 sharpshooters to the exclusion area to finish off anything that moved. In retrospect, that might have been the most merciful solution to the problem of the animals in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

Anonymous said...

surely after a year or two three five let us see ... the hospitals will be panic ,, doctors, quack or real have no time for meal being busy with people in pain, unexplainable disease ,,,and what about the funerals???? ohhhhh.... japs needs a lot of coffins!!!! they should collect a lots of wood in fukushima for they will badly needed don`t worry about the sizes.......ahhhh!!!! tepco.... ohhhh japanese officials .. what are they doing???????

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