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Wary, Japanese Take Food Safety Into Their Own Hands

Wary, Japanese Take Food Safety Into Their Own Hands

from nytimes: Critics say farm and health officials have been too quick to allow food to go to market without adequate testing, or have ignored calls from consumers to fully disclose test results. And they say the government can no longer pull the wool over the public’s eyes, as they contend it has done routinely in the past.

“Since the accident, the government has tried to continue its business-as-usual approach of understating the severity of the accident and insisting that it knows best,” said Mitsuhiro Fukao, an economics professor at Keio University in Tokyo who has written about the loss of trust in government. “But the people are learning from the blogs, Twitter and Facebook that the government’s food-monitoring system is simply not credible.”

One result has been a burst of civic activism, rare in a nation with a weak civil society that depends on its elite bureaucrats more than citizen groups to safeguard the national interests, including public health. No longer confident that government is looking out for their interests, newly formed groups of consumers and even farmers are beginning their own radiation-monitoring efforts.

More than a dozen radiation-testing stations, mostly operated by volunteers, have appeared across Fukushima and as far south as Tokyo, 150 miles from the plant, aiming to offer radiation monitoring that is more stringent and transparent than that of the government.

  1. Anonymous

    January 27, 2012

    I am very happy that the Japanese consumers and farmers are beginning to use their own radiation-monitoring equipment to safeguard the food supply. In Texas January is the month we pay property taxes so this month is a wipe-out, but next month I too will bite-the-bullet and spend $500 for radiation monitoring hand-held unit. We can't put full faith in our government officials either.

  2. Anonymous

    January 28, 2012

    Thanks for the info. I live in Nagoya, Japan, and I am skeptical about all vegetables and fruits from the Tohoku (Fukushima) area or any Japanese beef, chicken, or pork from anywhere in Japan, as it may have been raised on Fukushima-grown products. I eat Norway salmon, Chinese sawara, and American cod (gindara), nothing off the east coast of Japan.

  3. Anonymous

    January 31, 2012

    I'm very worried about fish meal fertilizer originating from Japanese waters. This stuff can rapidly move through the food chain if applied for example, to tropical fruit farms that are seemingly remote to Japan. Geiger counters intended for personal use cannot detect this sort of radiological hazard. Only the growers or processors can monitor and perform the complex sampling required. Even so, it's very unlikely that the results would be published. Only a public outcry would start the inquiry!

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