From November 29, 2016 The harvests of Chernobyl https://aeon.co/essays/ukraine-s-berry-pickers-are-reaping-a-radioactive-bounty
Members of the European Parliament’s food safety committee will vote on a text on Thursday (7 September), raising the alarm over a European Commission proposal to partly relax controls on food imports from Fukushima, Japan, which suffered a nuclear disaster in 2011.
The draft resolution, seen by EUobserver, said “there are sufficient reasons to believe that this proposal could lead to an increase in exposure to radioactive contaminated food with a corresponding impact on human health”.
The MEPs’ text highlighted that, under the commission’s proposal, rice and derived products from the Fukushima prefecture would no longer be subject to emergency inspections. It stressed that one of those products is “rice used in baby food and food for young children”.
The text criticised that the commission’s proposal did not justify why some foodstuffs were taken off the list.
However, the MEPs’ concerns may already be outdated.
Danish centre-left MEP Christel Schaldemose, one of the text’s sponsors, spoke to EUobserver on Tuesday over the phone.
“We are completely relying on data from the Japanese side. … We need to be cautious,” she said.
“I wouldn’t say we can’t trust them, but it is worth checking ourselves,” said Schaldemose.
The resolution is an initiative by French Green MEP Michele Rivasi, who has been working on the text since June 2017.
In parallel, Rivasi and two of her Greens colleagues, also asked the commission for an explanation through a written question, on 14 July.
On 22 August, EU commissioner for food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis answered, telling MEPs that the proposed changes are based on publicly available data from the Japanese government.
Andriukaitis included a link to the raw data in a footnote, and said that if MEPs wanted to have a “detailed justification for the proposed changes”, they can get them “by separate mail, upon request”.
According to a commission source, Rivasi will receive this justification after having requested it.
Meanwhile, however, work on the resolution continued, and is now on the agenda for a vote on Thursday.
It received the support from five other MEPs, including two from the two largest political groups in the EU parliament.
Free trade agreement
The parliament’s text, which is non-binding, also mentioned that Japanese exports of rice could increase under the EU-Japan free trade agreement (FTA), which the commission is expected to wrap up this year.
In a briefing which Green MEP Rivasi gave to journalists last July, according to a summary provided by her office, the French politician implied that the proposal on Fukushima was a bargaining chip in the negotiations for the FTA, and called it a “scandal”.
The left-wing Greens are generally critical of FTAs.
Rivasi referred to a remark commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker made following an EU-Japan summit on 6 July.
“I would like to congratulate prime minister Abe on the remarkable progress Japan has made on making products from the Fukushima region safe, following the 2011 accident,” Juncker had said.
“I am confident and I will work into that direction that we will have after the summer break a further lifting of import measures,” he added.
A commission spokeswoman told EUobserver, however, that the proposed changes are based on a thorough analysis.
“The requirement for pre-testing before export is lifted only for food and feed from a prefecture where sufficient data demonstrate that food and feed is compliant in the last growing season with the strict maximum levels applicable in Japan,” she said.
The emergency restrictions were put in place two weeks after the accident happened, and have already been amended five times.
The decision is taken by a so-called implementing act, which only involves the commission and member states, but not the EU parliament.
It could be some propaganda spin on the Japanese side, but I doubt it. It is most probably true as Japan and Europe just signed a new trade deal on Thursday July 6, 2017, when Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met top European Union officials in Brussels on the eve of a G20 summit of world leaders, including President Trump, in Germany.
The deal, which had been discussed since 2011, will remove almost all customs duties on European exports to Japan. Those are currently worth as much as €1 billion ($1.1 billion) a year.
That lifting import curbs on Fukushima rice, Tohoku marine products, wild vegetables, into Europe, might have been included in that trade deal package, to the detriment of the health protection of yet unaware Europeans.
The European Union may lift an import restriction on rice produced in nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture.
BRUSSELS – The European Union is considering lifting an import restriction on rice produced in meltdown-hit Fukushima Prefecture as well as on wild vegetables and marine products from Japan, sources said Sunday.
At present, the EU requires that radiation inspection certificates be submitted by exporters of some food products from 13 prefectures in the eastern half of the Japanese archipelago.
But the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has drafted import regulation reform plans that call for scrapping the requirement when it comes to rice from Fukushima, home to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the sources said.
The EC also proposes removing the regulation for some kinds of seafood, including shrimp, crab, octopus, yellowtail, red sea bream and bluefin tuna, from the seven prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Iwate, and certain wild vegetables from seven prefectures including Akita, Nagano and Yamagata.
Meanwhile, the radiation certificate obligation will remain in place for food imports from Yamanashi, Niigata and Shizuoka prefectures.
A formal decision on the deregulation proposal could come as early as this autumn, the sources said.
The Fukushima No. 1 power plant is run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
It’s horrible to think that if the rice is over 99 Bq/kg it cannot be sold in Japan yet it can have up to 600Bq/kg (?) of Cs137/134 and be sold in the EU. One man’s poison is another man’s food …
Rice harvested in Japan’s Fukushima region, heavily affected by a nuclear meltdown in 2011, is returning to the EU, starting with Britain next month, the Japan Times reports.
A total of 1.9 tons of Fukushima rice called Ten no Tsubu will be sold in London, making the UK the first EU nation to import the region’s produce after the nuclear disaster. The sale became possible after a long campaign from Fukushima natives in London to fend off rumors about the potential danger of the crops, the media said.
“With the UK as a foothold, we hope to expand the sale of prefecture-produced rice to other EU member countries,” said Nobuo Ohashi from Japanese farmers group Zen-Noh.
Brussels requires rice from Fukushima to undergo a radiation test in Japan or the importer country.
“It’s bright news for Fukushima, which has been struggling with the import restrictions. We will make further efforts so the restrictions will be lifted entirely,” said a spokesperson for a prefectural office.
The disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Plant was caused by a tsunami that resulted in the meltdown of three nuclear reactors and the release of radioactive material. It was the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident in 1986, and the second to receive the highest level classification on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
A March report by the US National Academy of Sciences said that five years following the disaster, most seafood caught off the coast of Japan is now safe to be consumed, adding, “the overall contamination risk for aquatic food items is very low.”
Not only it is criminal to allow Fukushima products, potentially contaminated, to be sold in London, Europe at a Japanese Government sponsored event, and their ignorant buyers to be possibly internally contaminated, knowing that internal radiation exposure is 100 times more harmful than external radiation exposure; such event is then used by the Japanese government in the local Fukushima newspaper (Fukushima Minpo) and in the national newspapers (Japan Times) as propaganda to convince the Fukushima people and the Japanese people that it is quite safe, not harmful to eat the Fukushima products, the proof: Europeans are buying it and eating it!
Fukushima nativees sell products made in Fukushima Prefecture at the Japan Matsuri festival in London last Spetember (Fukushima Minpo)
Fukushima-harvested rice will hit the stores in Britain in July, which might make it the first member of the EU to import the grain, following a sustained effort by a group of Fukushima natives in London fighting rumors about the safety of the crop.
It is also the third nation, after Singapore and Malaysia, to import Fukushima rice since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami caused three reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Starting next month, 1.9 tons of Fukushima rice called Ten no Tsubu will be sold in London. A Fukushima branch of National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, a Japanese farmers group better known as Zen-Noh, will export the rice via a British trading company.
“With the U.K. as a foothold, we hope to expand the sale of prefecture-produced rice to other EU member countries,” said Nobuo Ohashi, who heads the Fukushima branch of Zen-Noh.
According to Japan’s Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, the EU has been phasing out its ban on Fukushima food products since the nuclear disaster started. But for Fukushima rice, the EU still obliges importers to submit a radiation test certified by the Japanese government or sample tests by the member nation importing it.
“It’s bright news for Fukushima, which has been struggling with the import restrictions,” said an official at the prefectural office in charge of promoting its products. “We will make further efforts so the restrictions will be lifted entirely.”
There were many hurdles to overcome.
Amid fears that Fukushima products were tainted with radioactive fallout, Yoshiro Mitsuyama, who heads the Fukushima group in London, consulted an official at Zen-Noh’s branch in Germany on how to sell Fukushima products a few years ago.
With the help of Zen-Noh, Mitsuyama’s group started selling Fukushima-made rice, peach and apple juice at the annual Japan Matsuri held at London’s Trafalgar Square three years ago.
The products were popular with London residents. When Visit Japan Ambassador Martin Barrow came to Fukushima last April, he bought some local produce.
“I want to help sell Fukushima fruits like cherries, apples and pears in London as well, not just rice,” said Mitsuyama.
This section, appearing every third Monday, features topics and issues covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture. The original article was published on May 25.