Monday, May 20, 2013

Cherry Tomatoes and Asparagus, From #Fukushima to Thailand

I don't quite understand the psychology of some of the farmers in Fukushima in the past two years. From what's been reported and what I've known in blogs and tweets, they are angry that fickle consumers outside their prefecture are still fanning the "baseless rumors" that their produce is contaminated with radioactive materials from the biggest nuclear accident in Japan in history, and they are determined more than ever to keep producing anything they like and demand that consumers buy them, because they have to make living. I'm sure there are conscientious farmers who would rather not farm, but they are not vocal.

"Eat and support" is now clearly being expanded to foreign countries, with Thailand to start.

For some time, the Fukushima prefectural government and Fukushima JA seem to have been targeting Thailand, which receives 70% of foreign economic aids from Japan, according to Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. First, it was Fukushima peaches. Then apples, pears, then persimmons. Now, Fukushima will sell fresh cherry tomatoes and asparagus to wealthy Thais.

That, on top of the hot money escaping from Japan, thanks to PM Abe and BOJ's Kuroda, and pouring into developing nations including Thailand. Thais are traditionally very friendly to Japanese, but I wonder how long that will last.

From Fukushima Minyu (5/17/2013; part):

県産野菜をタイで販売へ ミニトマトとアスパラ初輸出

Vegetables grown in Fukushima to be sold in Thailand, first export of cherry tomatoes and asparagus


Fukushima Trade Promotion Council made of the prefectural and municipal governments and corporations in Fukushima announced on May 16 that cherry tomatoes and asparagus grown in Fukushima will be exported to Thailand for the first time, and test sales will be on May 24 to 26 at large department stores in Bangkok. It will be the first export of Fukushima's vegetables to Thailand. On May 23, a business meeting with potential buyers will be set up in Bangkok, where 4 brands of well-renowned sake in Fukushima will be offered. The Council felt good that peaches and apples from Fukushima sold well [in Thailand last year], and wants to make this occasion a foothold to expand export to Thailand.


Vegetables to be exported this time are 40 kilograms of cherry tomatoes produced by Tomatoland Iwaki (in Iwaki City), and 30 kilograms of asparagus produced in Kitakata City and shipped by JA Aizu Iide. Since it will be a test sales, the quantities will be small, and they will be sold at 5 stores of a large department store chain in Thailand. In order to export, it is necessary to confirm the safety of the produce at a testing laboratory designated by the Thai government. So, at the time of shipment, the vegetables will be tested for radioactive materials. The test results will be attached to the vegetables which will be transported by air from Haneda Airport.

Tomatoland Iwaki's homepage proudly says "Delicious and Safe Produce to Your Table".

The company says it tests its tomatoes for radioactive materials using the germanium semiconductor detector at an outside lab. Radioactive cesium not detected, says the latest result for cherry tomato on May 15, 2013. Looking closely, I notice that the detection limit is 10 Bq/kg. That's awfully high for the germanium semiconductor detector, meaning they don't test long. But in post-Fukushima Japan, if it is less than 10 Bq/kg, what are you complaining about? There's nothing to fear.

Iwaki City is located 30 kilometers south of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

While the Aizu region (mountain third of Fukushima) are relatively free of radioactive materials from the accident, areas around Kitakata City is unfortunately not so clean, as you can see in Professor Hayakawa's map.

Fukushima Prefecture's own testing of asparagus from Kitakata City has been N/D, with the detection limit of about 8 to 20 Bq/kg for radioactive cesium.

So, people in Bangkok will have an opportunity to taste pricey cherry tomatoes and asparagus from Fukushima which may or may not have radioactive cesium, in addition to peaches, apples and persimmons which were found with radioactive cesium, albeit below the government safety standard of 100 Bq/kg.

There are people who retweet this story in Japan with their comment like "Now the risk of having these vegetables and fruits processed in Thailand and shipped back to Japan as "Made-in-Thailand" food will be even greater!" It does not make any economical sense for Thais to do so, but for some Japanese, it has to be always the Japanese who are the victims of this nuclear accident.


jmdesp said...

Those are indeed minuscule amount of radioactivity, even more since people don't eat several kg of Asparagus or cherry tomatoes (or you *really* love them).

As shown by this graph from that guy in Yoyogi you follow, in the sample of green tea where he did find a measurable amount of cesium, the activity of the natural Potassium however was at least 15 times higher at 500Bq. And Potassium is 1.5 MeV which means that the impact of one Becquerel is much higher than the 661 keV of cesium.

Also the curve in his graph show that there a background level of radiation for every single keV value, this means in total the ionizing energy in that background is bigger than the peaks for Potassium or Cesium. We are swimming in radiations, it's just everywhere.

I've found that the impact of one Becquerel of cesium ingested is estimated to be equivalent to 12nSv (Council Directive 96/29/EURATOM). Well here in France, just standing there people receive on average around 100nSv of gamma ray per hour, it can vary between 180 and 60 depending on the location with no consequence ever detected. And it's still a minor part of the average radiation received per year.

Criticizing the nuclear industry is one thing, but making people worried and afraid about level of radiation that are not actually dangerous is another, and more harmful than useful, because of the nocebo effect.

Anonymous said...

"Nocebo effect"? Many have already been exposed to the cummulative effects of radiation. I've seen the autistic effects in my dughter and grandson. Just read the current news and past studies and you will have a better understanding of the effects of long and short term radiation - genetic mutataion.

Anonymous said...

SP: As a social sciences historian I denounce the tired old nuclear cabal lies utilizing natural bananas and natural radiation as equivalent to cesium and strontium, ad nauseam.

I remind everyone of the words of Benito Juarez who denounced the condescending air of Maximilan of Hapsburg in the 1860s struggle against the French trying to enslave the country of Mexico:

"It is given to men, sometimes, to attack the rights of others, to seize their goods, to threaten the life of those who defend their nationality, and to make that the highest virtues seem crimes, and to give their own vices the luster of true virtue. But there is a thing that cannot be reached either by falsification nor perfidy, and that is the tremendous verdict of history. She will judge us."

SP: Nuclear apologists try to make us seem like ignorant little children with their reassuring words that cesium and other radioactive isotopes are just as harmless as bananas.

Tell you what...I will modify the old Bernard Wacko Cohen plutonium/salt challenge to Ralph Nader. I promise to eat 454 grams of bananas for every 1 gram of strontium you eat in return. Or make it 1 gram of cesium since that is your "Banana Equivalent". Don't feel up to the challenge?

Well you shouldn't because cesium is NOT a nutrient! It is toxic and deadly and we have known that truth since 1941. It and strontium 90 blows up your DNA in ways scientists actually don't quite understand, but they do know how dangerous they are from testing those elements and the other 1940 plus toxic radio isotopes produced in nuclear reactors are toxic.

100 percent of cesium-137 in food is radioactive. It is not a nutrient and it is not a substitute for potassium. It accumulates in your body and lasts a very, very long time. And that's no bananas.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, SP.

Anonymous said...

Sheer insanity.

Anonymous said...

@SP. All ionizing radiation may cause harm, but levels within natural variations are considered very low-risk. You differentiate between "natural" and "artificial" radiation, but this has no scientific meaning whatsoever - the effect is exactly the same. Potassium-40 (in cells, so close to DNA) and carbon-14 (may even be part of DNA) will "blow it up" even more efficiently, so will many chemicals and even natural processes in your body.
History will certainly pass a very hard judgement on us, for (among other nonsense) closing NPPs in favor of coal plants.
From a "hard" scientist :-)

Anonymous said...

Excuse me, a "hard" scientist doesn't use :-)

Ageless Yankee said...

This isn't a problem - it's an opportunity.

If the authorities were to immediately set up appropriate control groups and rigorously collect mortality data, Thailand could be an excellent test environment to update the flawed Hiroshima nuclear effects studies.

Anonymous said...

I will tell you what hard back to us on how many picocuries of radiation are in a single gram of Strontium 90 and then tell us again exactly why the effect is the same as ingesting "natural" potassium.

Anonymous said...

Tepco and the Diet rarely publish any data about Strontium 90 levels, but we know how nuclear waste from commercial plants contains a sizable amount. So the explosions and fires at Fukushima Daiichi have distributed sizable amounts even if the Japanese remain tight-lipped about the levels.

Evidence of strontium 90's effects were documented long before Fukushima and led to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in the Kennedy administration.

More recently in 2010 we have this Mangano study:

"December 14, 2010 - The average concentration of Strontium-90 from atom bomb fallout in baby teeth of Americans who died of cancer by age 50 is 122% higher than in persons age 50 without cancer, according to a study published in the current International Journal of Health Services. The analysis is the first to address fallout cancer risk using radiation measurements in human bodies."

Anonymous said...

@sickputer: Fukushima mainly emitted its cesium and iodine by overheating. As strontium-90 and others are much less volatile, the levels are much lower (I remember reading ca. 1:100 of Cs-134/137). A good deal of the strontium must now be dissolved in the accumulated water in the buildings, as well as the numerous tanks all around the plant. Let's keep our fingers crossed…
The three large pollutions where a significant number of cancers were expected from strontium-90 are 1) the A-bomb tests, 2) the Chelyabinsk accident of 1957 and 3) Chernobyl.

Sheilah*Shakti 3~* said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheilah*Shakti 3~* said...

As far as " thèse Releases" Being insignificant ::
Are YOU Kidding ???
AnyOne curious about thé DIE-OFF of SEA Plankton & markers for RadionucleatideS Being found in Plankton -- bottom of thé Food Chaîn btw-- EAST of Hawaii
And what about thé dead & dying SEA LIONS???
As far as Japan " providing FOREIGN AID to Thailand "? I would b VERY SURPRISED if this is True :((
I RÉSIDE in Thailand & as far as i Know Thé Kingdom takes GRÉÂT Pride in PROVIDING for thé populace WITHOUT thé " need" for foreign assistance x
Lastly Thailand was thé VERY FIRST Country to REFUSE & BAN Japanesr BEEF x
With such a STRONG Agricultural Community AND HEAPS of Organic Produce i would b VERY Interested to note just which large supermarket chaîns are Bringing in produce from FukishimA for quote " Wealthy Thai's" x
I Will happily ALERT those at risk for Being DUPED by such CLUELESS behaviours !!!
TEPCO &Thé Japanese Gov't are POISONING OUR Pacific Océan & their OWN Water Table & PEOPLE!!!

Sheilah*Shakti 3~* said...

*** NO LESS ONGOING " Releases " ::
AnyOne who believes that this was a SINGULAR :// FINITE " évent" at FukishimA might Like to FURTHER their knowlesge base x
FukishimA is an UNPRECIDENTED TRIPLE MELT DOWN *** All Contaminent Vessels WERE BREECHED in Reactors 1-3 AND NOW 4 is at HIGH RISK for thé SAME :((
That means SPONTANEOUS Fission is Taking place while TEPCO tries TRIÉS to COOL thé CORIUM with h20 + SEA WATER & JUST WHAT happens with HEAT * SUPRA-HEAT & WATER ??? STEAM :((. Plus thé Water // Coolant is just SPILLING OUT of thé CRACKS Like a SIEVE :)(
As for thé rest of us ???
Why thé GLOBAL COMMUNITY // Int'l Tribunals // NRC & IAEC are sitting IDLE while thé rest of US Speculate WHY NOT A SINGLE TEPCO NOR Japanese Authority is held Accountable L'EST WE SPEAK of Thé InnocentS :/:
It is a RIGHT SHAME & A ÉLE for MANY !!!

Sheilah*Shakti 3~* said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheilah*Shakti 3~* said...

PS & BTW :: for those whom simply VIEW thèse
Strontium, Radioactive Iodine ,Celsium et all ARE KNOWN MARKERS for PLUTONIUM which means A DEADLY By-Product of Nucléar Fission // Nucléar PowerPlant MELTDOWNS it REMAINS IN THÉ ENVONMENT IE::,Thé FOOD Chaîn & // OR THÉ AIRE if Aerosolized OR BURNED :((. ALSO in DUST as Well x. TOKYO --40km South of FukishimA --SHOULD have been EVACUATED by MANY ReportS x
SERIOUSLY thé JET STREAM & Thé Pacific Océan Currents AS WELL as Thee Water Table :: Lakes& Streams are at RISK x
Thèse MARKERS & Hot Particles & Fleas are Being found as far West as THEE WEST Coast of California in LARGE ENOUGH Amounts to CAUSE an Increase in Infant Hypothyrodism based on a STUDY at UC San Diego in their Néonatal ICU [as ONE EXAMPLE ONLY]
Thé Choice is ALWAYZ Yours THO PLZ DO NOT SIMPLIFY thé ENORMITY of SOIL, Water, Oceanic & Aire CONTAMINATION :: PLZ Recall PLUTONIUM Has a HALF LIFE of 25,000 YEARS :: THO Whose Counting ???

fyi :: Plutonium-239 in nuclear power reactors ::

In any operating nuclear reactor containing U-238, some plutonium-239 will accumulate in the nuclear fuel.[4] Unlike reactors used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, commercial nuclear power reactors typically operate at a high burnup that allows a significant amount of plutonium to build up in irradiated reactor fuel. Plutonium-239 will be present both in the reactor core during operation and in spent nuclear fuel that has been removed from the reactor at the end of the fuel assembly’s service life (typically several years). Spent nuclear fuel commonly contains about 0.8% plutonium-239.

Plutonium-239 present in reactor fuel can absorb neutrons and fission just as uranium-235 can. Since plutonium-239 is constantly being created in the reactor core during operation, the use of plutonium-239 as nuclear fuel in power plants can occur without reprocessing of spent fuel; the plutonium-239 is fissioned in the same fuel rods in which it is produced. Fissioning of plutonium-239 provides about one-third of the total energy produced in a typical commercial nuclear power plant. Reactor fuel would accumulate much more than 0.8% plutonium-239 during its service life if some plutonium-239 were not constantly being “burned off” by fissioning.

A small percentage of plutonium-239 can be deliberately added to fresh nuclear fuel. Such fuel is called MOX (mixed oxide) fuel, as it contains a mixture of uranium oxide (UO2) and plutonium oxide (PuO2). The addition of plutonium-239 reduces or eliminates the need to enrich the uranium in the fuel x

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