Safety Standard Or Double Standard?

Consumers Union of Japan held a seminar about radioactivity and food safety at Meiji University in Tokyo on January 29, 2012.

By Emilie De Montessus (CUJ Intern from Lyon University)

Furitsu Katsumi, Hyogo College of Medicine, spoke about the lessons learnt from Chernobyl. Since the Chernobyl accident in 1986, in Belarus, as well as in the outskirts of the area, measures for food safety has been taken, and there is a lot of experience with the aim to protect consumers. What are the conclusions of these experiences?

Dr. Furitsu called the current approach to safety standards a double standard and expressed her concern about the ICRP radiation protection standards. Learning from the consequences in Chernobyl, it is important for consumers in Japan to measure the radioactivity in foodstuffs. The situation is very worrying notably about consumers’ health, especially for young children, who are 3 times as sensitive compared to adults. For example, after the Chernobyl accident the rate of thyroid cancer increased considerably, especially among children.

After the Fukushima accident, the consequences on foodstuffs are numerous. There is a sense of crisis in the agricultural industry, for example regarding tea plants from Shizuoka, that are not possible to export. The importance of measuring the rate of radiocativity was emphasized during the conference. It was also noted that if we wash food stuffs twice, before eating them, the rate of radioactivity is reduced.

Consumers Union of Japan is denouncing the lack of openness concerning the rate of radioactivity in Fukushima prefecture and the surrounding areas, and also, the slowness of reaction from the government. Even almost one year after the Fukushima accident, most of the evacuated inhabitants cannot return to their homes, while farmers and consumer co-operatives have not yet received compensation from TEPCO.

(Photo: Gabor Tiroler,