About the Author

Uwe Paschen is an Environmental Engineer based in Chiba, Japan. He is involved in training willing homeless youth to become the next generation of youg famers all the wile enabling them to lease land under fair conditions.

He can be contacted through his facebook profile.

This article is re-posted from his blog.

The impact of radiation on the food chain in Japan is far more serious than first thought. Back in March after the gravity of the nuclear accident in Fukushima became clear the World Health Organization warned that tap water, leafy vegetables, eggs, meat mushrooms and milk in an 80 kilometer radius of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant were placed on its ‘danger list’.

The organization warned that Japan needed to act ‘quickly’ and ban food sales from areas around the plant if products there are found to contain excessive levels of radiation. A spokesman for the Geneva-based agency said radiation in food can accumulate in the body and that it poses a greater risk to health than radioactive particles in the air, which disperse within days. WHO spokesman Peter Cordingley said: ‘It’s a lot more serious than anybody thought in the early days when we thought that this kind of problem can be limited to 20 to 30 kilometers.

‘It’s safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of the contamination zone.’

Those statements form the WHO where made by the end of March, today six month after the melt down of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima dai ichi power plant from TEPCO we know that tea leaves, rice and other products show in some cases over five times the permissible maximum radiation levels and this reaching as far as the prefectures of Saitama, Chiba and Tokyo. (exceeding a 300 kilometer radius from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.) The areas that were the most affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami are also some of the main supplier of food products such as rice, milk, fruits, also fish, poultry, beef and pork.

Japan needs the East to feed the nation. Banning food from Eastern Japan due to radiation will create a political and economical disaster. No nation could afford to compensate all those farmers for their losses all the wile importing food products from oversea. The collapse of the Japanese food industry would create massive unemployment and plunge the country into an crisis of cataclysmic proportions.

Why, the government is now desperately trying to find ways to lower the radiation levels in the soils and the sea and this with drastic measures such as removing the top 30 cm of the soil in all affected areas and replacing the contaminated soil with new clean top soil.

This project is almost bordering madness, since the volumes of soil in question here are titanic and be on what most would be able to fathom.

The cost is equally phenomenal. Sadly though that is not all, since all the removed soil that is radioactively poisoned has to be stored now and decontaminated with means that are still unclear, since no one has ever tried to undertake such a massive project. Some may wonder why would Japan not just move all the people and its agriculture some where else and leave the contaminated area for a few centuries until is save once again to live and farm there. Well, Japan being about the seize of California or the Netherlands and with a population of 127 million does not have much room to play with. Further, who would want to take in a few million Japanese as refugees, since those want to preserve their culture, their language and their customs. Russia or Canada even though being the two largest countries on this planet, all the wile having the lowest population density would not dream of taking in a few million refugees, no matter where they came from.

This issue of refugees due to wars, climate changes, natural disasters or men made disasters needs to be dealt with on a global level. We humans are born into a setting which is be on our control or choice, we do not chose our ethnicity, nationality, religion or sex, we are just born into it. Most would never dare question their culture, religion or social rank into which they are born. Most accept all this with out giving it much thought. However, if we stand by our ideals of equality, fraternity, justice and freedom than it is unacceptable to allow some few humans to control wast areas of land and resources will most of humanity is being plunged into a cataclysmic era of natural disasters and famines in large part due to climate changes that are generated and made worth to some extend by those countries that now refuse to take in refuges in large enough numbers, namely the United States, Canada, Russia and Australia. I have not forgotten the EU, however, the EU has already one of the highest population densities and will be affected to a far greater degree by climate changes than other areas of this planet may. Further, the EU has been accepting refugees in large numbers until recently.

Japans population is in decline and this may very well be what will help save Japan over the next century. Unfortunately, the worlds population is still increasing and our planet will simply not be able to handle it, especially not the way we manage it.

Disasters such as Fukushima or Tchernobyl will only multiply, simply because we will face more natural and men made disasters and because our economies are in trouble and when ever that happens safety is usually the first to be cut and aging power plants that should be shut down will find them self still running long after their time was up. Through out the world we are facing a massive loss of farm land due to expanding cities and we also lose production on the remaining cultivated land in the agricultural sectors due to climate changes, pollution and other factors. When we look rationally at all those factors, we have to come to the unpleasant conclusion that Japan will have no other choice than to allow radioactive contaminated food to be sold to its population and the Japanese people will have to accept that they will have to pay the price for generations of mismanagement and wrong choices that all lead to this disaster.

The next four generation will have to learn to live with radiation and accept shorter life expectancies, health troubles and lower quality of life so that the country may be able to recover and take a new, a wiser and more humbler course allowing future generations to be able live better again. The era of consumerisms and wants is coming to an end and we have to relearn to live simpler with less comfort, less luxuries and less help. Japan is not alone to have to face those facts, Europe, North America, Australia and others will have to engage in the same process very soon. However, due to this triple disaster last March, Japan has been forced to face those realities much sooner than others and maybe this will help Japan to come out of all this much stronger and better than others that still refuse to face the realities at hand that will force us all to change with in the next generation.