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Fukushima farmers pray for radiation-free rice

66 Comments
By Yuri Kageyama

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66 Comments
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folks are blaming TEPCO but they were happy enough to accept the hand outs in the first place. They should have been complaining before the reactors were installed.

-5 ( +7 / -12 )

". The government bought those crops, which sit in giant mounds in storage."for what purpose,why hasn't it been destroyed????

4 ( +6 / -2 )

They should be planting as much rice as possible, harvesting it, then disposing of it (preferably burnt in sealed containers at the bottom of the ocean). The rice will absorb radiation each harvest, making the area safer more quickly. They should also seed the ground with earthworms and then shock the ground after a few days to make them rise, and dispose of them. Sea-water tolerant algae could also be used to leech salt (and radiation) from areas, then safely skimmed off, burnt and disposed of.

Nuclear cleanup specialists learnt a lot after Chernobyl and the main thing they learnt (apart from "don't let meltdowns happen") was that living plants and creatures are the best cleanup devices. Anyone who takes a few hours to read up on the post-Chernobyl findings could know this... oh, but wait, most Japanese think that "English isn't necessary", so they can't read the research.

1 ( +8 / -7 )

They should be planting as much rice as possible, harvesting it, then disposing of it

What a waste... plant sunflowers, in a couple of years they'll leach all that cesium out. I think rape seed also works well.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

burn at the bottom of the ocean, as a diver I A:) don't approve it B:) don't believe it could be done in a big scale

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well, I'm praying too that there's no radiation in the rice. And I'm praying if there is you'll tell us, and not sell it at rock bottom prices to be mislabelled and sold to unknowing customers.

8 ( +7 / -1 )

Ah yes, must be that special kind of radioactivity found only in Japan; the kind which only lasts a year and then vanishes!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I don't eat j rice anymore

1 ( +7 / -6 )

All of Japan pray

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I don't eat j rice anymore

I stopped buying it years ago. There are times when I can't avoid them, but I minimize intake and when I do buy bags of rice it's always basmati from abunai overseas.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

I try to do my bit to support Fukushima farmers. I have been buying Fukushima rice all year and last summer I bought Fukushima peaches and I will continue to do so. At the Aeon supermarket where I shop, they actually have a staff member with a Geiger counter to reassure shoppers. That's good enough for me.

-1 ( +6 / -6 )

Why pray when they will just mix it in with rice from other prefectures anyways?

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I can understand the farmers dire position. However, praying is not going to help. Never has and never will. Praying is just a process to make you feel better.

I would suggest he does something proactive that might actually help the cause. Just thinking/talking to yourself (a.k.a praying) is not going to help solve anything.

The only advice I would offer is to source a buyer before he wastes any time or money planting and harvesting his crops. Otherwise he is just hoping that it will turn out to be OK in the end...

Also, what kind of person grows a crop which he knows could be dangerous to consume. With that selfish/dangerous state of mind I have no sympathy.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

I feel sorry for this guy but he says “It’s not our fault at all, but the land of our ancestors has been defiled.” Did the reactors just build themselves near his community?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Brainiac, radioactive food contamination does not register by waving a geiger counter over it. If Aeon does that, they are doing it only to deceive you and other customers. Next question is "Deception is being done, what is their motivation for it?". All answers for that are, of course, not acceptable.

I support ANY farmer, but only as long as they maintain food safety and customer respect as number one priority in action. If there are tests being done, there is no harm in letting customers to see the numbers and of course, the manner the tests are being conducted. So many believe they can perform an accurate radiological examination, it is simply mind-boggling.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

All farming and fishing east of Fukushima City should be banned for five years. Every farm should be tested for radiation levels and those without contamination issued a license. When the farmer is allowed to grow again the license number must be on all produce he sells.

In Britain, more than 25 years after Chernobyl, there are still about 350 farms which have to test their produce before releasing it to market.

Allowing Fukushima farmers to just grow crops, and those farmers who didn't want to grow, were told by the JA, if they didn't grow they would lose their license, means that in the end, contaminated food will reach the market.

10 ( +11 / -2 )

What a waste... plant sunflowers, in a couple of years they'll leach all that cesium out. I think rape seed also works well.

Sunflowers are a known "sponge" for drawing radioactivity out of the soil. You still have to deal with the sunflowers after they've grown, but it's a heck of a lot easier to bundle and ship sunflower stalks than sifting soil for the radioactive parts. Maybe they should start doing crop rotations alternating between sunflowers, rape seed, and a cash crop.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This man reminds me a movie "Woman In The Dunes" of Kurosawa. She was sweeping dunes over and over in wind. I am just about crying as I understand what he is going through. You cannot break farmers. They area a tough bunch and never quit. Gambare!! We buy your crop no matter what.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Where in Tokyo can I buy rice from southern prefectures? Kumamoto should have good rice, but whrere can I buy it?

Also, what happened to Aichi cabbage? Used to be a lot of it in local super markets, but now it's all from Chiba, which is contaminated? @BrainiacMay. 30, 2012 - 10:22AM JST

I try to do my bit to support Fukushima farmers. I have been buying Fukushima rice all year and last summer I bought Fukushima peaches and I will continue to do so. At the Aeon supermarket where I shop, they actually have a staff member with a Geiger counter to reassure shoppers. That's good enough for me.

You do know that you are taking a huge risk with it, right? I mean it's your choice, but Aeon super market has profit concerns above your health concerns. Their geiger counters won't pick up anything, I hope you did enough reseach before you made your decision.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

You really can't blame these farmers because who knew the dangers back in 1967? This man's farm is 60 kms off, so his city or town may not even be the one receiving handouts.

I will be happy to pray with him, but honestly, cooking fukushima rice for my children would be something else....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

You really can't blame these farmers because who knew the dangers back in 1967? This man's farm is 60 kms off, so his city or town may not even be the one receiving handouts.

Farmer Ogata (58) would have been 13-years-old back in 1967, so we can't hold him responsibile for the decision to build the nuke plant.

But there again, we can't blame any of the communities which allowed the building of nuke plants. The power companies picked locations with poor farming and fishing communities with seasonal work which meant men leaving during the winter to seek labor.

Along came the power companies with their nuke plants offering them secure employment all year round and large grants and donations for the communties. By the way, those power companies told them the same lies they told the entire country, that nuclear power was safe, clean, and cheap.

Another busted myth!

11 ( +13 / -2 )

And they will label it with that...oh, it comes from somewhere in Japan...I hate that.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

in Tokyo can I buy rice from southern prefectures? Kumamoto should have good rice, but whrere can I buy it?

If you are worrying, please buy California Rice-Kokuho Rice. It is not too bad and cheaper.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Christopher Clement, an expert at the International Commission on Radiological Protection, a global nonprofit authority on radiation health, says the food standards in Fukushima are safe. They are lower than the maximums set in Europe after Chernobyl.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Is it feasible to drill a shallow core sample every 100 feet or so on these farms and test the soil for contaminate..I don't know what level of radiation in the soil would be safe but I bet some one must have that information. Also, How about planting these farms with hemp?? The hemp plant grows rapidly needs little water or ferts and will leach contaminate from the soil..The harvested hemp could be used to fire steam generators..Dry it-Shred it -mix it with coal.. I think most coal plants have good scrubbers in the exhaust stacks that would collect most contaminate or could be retrofitted to scrub the smoke...The farmers would probably not make any profit ,Need Subsides, but at least there would be no chance of contaminated food items entering the market.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

After the October harvest, their rice will be run through special machines that can detect the tiniest speck of radiation.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The standard for radiation in foodstuffs should be if it can be measured, then it's contaminated.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Like I said before I'll gladly pray alongside the farmers, but seriously prayer does not eliminate radiation, and I don't really see why these people are even allowed to plant crops. We know full well that if the rice tests for radiation we'll hear how desperate such farmers are to sell it, and the government will say we all have to share the burdern and somehow the food will make it to the market, either sold mixed in with other rice, or ground into meal for animals (which we will later consume). The farmers whose fields have tested positive for radiation should have had the farmlands bought from them and them moved to a new location and hopefully job.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Prayer will do nothing for lowering radiation. If he and the other farmers up there think that there won't be radiation, sadly, they're dreaming. Though I feel sorry for their loss, it's just that: a loss, even if it's a major one. Hard as it is to do, for the sake of others and for their descendants, they need to pack up and restart their lives in a safer place. I don't envy their predicament one bit, and I sympathize with them heavily, but to poison others with such risky produce is just selfish. And to bypass supermarkets that test for radiation by selling to restaurants instead that have no legal obligation to test or disclose radiation levels in their products is just plain unethical and socially irresponsible.

By the way, does anyone know the effects on the human body for ingesting zeolites? Do these chemicals accumulate in food crops? For a lot of people, using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides is bad enough. What more of radiation accumulating zeolites?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Steve Mcgrew

While I honestly really like your hemp idea, I have to ask, wouldn't burning hemp that has leeched the radiation from the soil just spread more radiation into the atmosphere?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As good as coal plant scrubbers might be... I have to question just how effective they are at catching radioactive particles. I remember that the tsunami debris burned at incinerators in Chiba didn't turn out so well, with radiation levels rising. I'm not an expert in waste disposal or chimney scrubbers, but I do wonder if these incinerators would have to have the same level of filtration as any other industrial facility that produces toxic smoke.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Why would contaminated rice be stored?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So basically they are "praying" they don't irridate their own countrymen with their rice. But they will still send it to market, nonetheless. Without any government interference. Yup, that's about par for Japan.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@ Ted Barrera I don't know if the scrubbers in coal plants would/could collect radioactive particles from smoke but there must be someway to collect radioactive particles from exhaust stacks...Anyway,I was just thinking that some crop other than a food crop should be planted for several seasons in an effort to clean the soil up before ANY food crops are planted....If large scale food crop farming takes place and the crops are contaminated then I am sure,even with testing and oversight, some of the contaminated harvest would likely end up in the market and consumed. This happened with crops from last seasons harvest and probably will happen again..Better safe than sorry.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why isn't he told the rice will be radioactive? The disaster probably made all seafood in the Pacific ocean dangerous to eat.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Scrubbers on coal fired stations are used to remove the CO2 and other greenhouse gases and are more than 50% effective. Filters are used to catch all particles and are more than 90% effective. But rice can't be burnt with the coal or debris from Tohoku they are not designed to operate like that but the rice could be burnt in incinators.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Pray, because the Gov't and TEPCO aren't gonna do a thing and the people are gonna eat it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"He also doesn’t know which experts to believe. Scientists often come to Fukushima to discuss radiation at neighborhood meetings, but some say there will be no health effects at all, while others say tens of thousands may get sick."

I understand his confusion.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What a waste... plant sunflowers, in a couple of years they'll leach all that cesium out. I think rape seed also works well.

You can't grow sunflower in a rice paddy, and even if you could you would destroy the paddy in the process. Rice requires a very complicated and difficult growing process, especially Koshihikari. Nevertheless, rice is also pretty good at extracting radioactivity from the ground.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

ebisen,

Nevertheless, rice is also pretty good at extracting radioactivity from the ground.

Which proves the case for not growing rice which will find it's way to market.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

zichi - if you even want to reuse the paddy, you have to extract the radioactivity out of it. If you want to keep the paddy working, you have to grow rice on it. That some shaddy sellers will try to blend it and put it on the market is a totally different matter.

It is preferred to grow it and keep the radioactive rice under control, that either not grow at all, or not control it. This is what is currently happen. I'm pretty sure the measuring machines will catch most of the dangerous rice, Their sensitivity is high enough to measure the radioactivity of a normal healthy human in seconds.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Ebisen, why would that destroy the rice pady? just don't flood it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

just don't flood it.

THAT, and the remaining roots of the sunflower will change the soil structure (I saw an NHK documentary about this, I'm not a specialist). Some people profiled for legumes, which are also good at cleaning up the soil, while fixating nitrogen..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My best wishes to the farmers of Fukushima for this years crop.

Though I'm unsure if I would buy the rice even if it was deemed safe. I wouldn't mind eating it myself but I wouldn't risk feeding it to my 3yr old daughter or my partner who is heavily pregnant and planning on breastfeeding.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ebisen,

Before growing any rice, the farmers need to remove the soil and rebuild the rice fields. Then it should be tested and a license issued. The number of the license should be on every bag of rice he sells and there should be a system that people can check the license number online to ensure they are buying rad free rice.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Prayin' just ain't gonna swing it.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@JaneM

Christopher Clement, an expert at the International Commission on Radiological Protection, a global nonprofit authority on radiation health, says the food standards in Fukushima are safe. They are lower than the maximums set in Europe after Chernobyl.

As some of you may know, I often make comments here doubting the honesty and methods of the international organizations involved in nuclear regulation and radiation control. Even to the point of criticizing the WHO (oh the horror)

So I would like to take this opportunity to say that ICRP is one organization I do believe is honest and of high standards. Still I cant seem to find the the exact quote that you are referring to here. Do you have a source for it?

I also believe that if food safety rules are implemented and the limits strictly enforced, then food is not the most worrisome vector anymore. I am however not so sure that enforcment of the rules and limits is going to work effectively in the long run. I, like Zichi, worry that the contaminated produce will make its way to market regardless.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Steve McGrew

Thanks for clarifying your point. I see your reasoning now. Makes sense.

@Zichi

Thanks for letting us know the effectiveness of the filtration systems.

With those two considerations in mind, I agree that the hemp idea in incinerators is brilliant!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Does anyone know if the zeolites will be taken up by the rice / other crops? And if so, what will the effects of those zeolites be on humans?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

SquidBert

I, like Zichi, worry that the contaminated produce will make its way to market regardless.

Provide the "means" and the "way" will always be found.

Human nature?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Brainiac, you know that Japanese supermarkets use fake Geiger counters which underestimate the amount of radiation right?

Only eat Japanese food if you want cancer or birth deformities.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I hope the farmers are keeping seed stock which is not contaminated.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

What a waste... plant sunflowers, in a couple of years they'll leach all that cesium out. I think rape seed also works well.

Dreaming. No they won't and caesium is not the only concern.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think some of you thought the government was storing last year's rice? I don't know, but I think it might be the farmers themselves. And I could totally see these old gits thinking that rice will be good to go after sitting around a bit, and try and sell it again ths fall.

They should have been paid to leave those fields alone. Now look, they have gone and plowed any contaminants under.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I like those rice trucks, seeing those rice layers in action. So cool to watch,usually it's the husband and wife team does the heavy work. It's hard work. I've seen people indivdually plant rice without the truck and with their hands. AMAZING !!!!!!!!

It's hard for me to say this but they should import rice from New Zealand or North America. THINK ABOUT THE KIDS, they eat this for lunch EVERYDAY. In the morning,noon and night.

Japanese kids eat rice EVERYDAY. I hope the government will protect the CHILDREN.

Importing rice is not such a bad idea.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Regardless of how "safe" it is, I won't be buying it, nor anything else from that area. I know, I know, I'm just scare mongering but I prefer my health and a sound mind over listening to the Japanese government trying to convince me that everything is all and well. Been a few too many screw ups for me to believe anything now. More so when the UK and Europe still make farmers test their crops every year before being able to sell. Those silly governments, scare mongering....

4 ( +5 / -1 )

It's gonna take about 10 more years of praying.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Guess praying is the only option the farmers have. Heaven knows you can't trust the TEPCO or government data.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's gonna take about 10 more years of praying.

1000 years or more.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This!

The rest he will sell to a local farming cooperative that distributes to corporate buyers, such as restaurants, that are more willing to buy Fukushima rice.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The government should subsidise an RFID tag system for those farmers whose produce has been inspected, so that consumers can trace and verify the origin and analysis results of the rice harvest for themselves. In Malaysia they have started using RFID tags to authenticate bird nest products. It seems to be a good way to help restore trust in the food supply system.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mosha, don't you think farmers get enogh subsidies as it is? There is plenty of other farmland sitting wasted in Japan. Move them there if they want to continue to farm. They can't have it both ways. The whole "It is my ancestors land" excuse is NOT okay when it comes to people's health and safety.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

JT thank you for restoring the paragraphs which were missing last night.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

FUKUSHIMA — Last year’s crop sits in storage, deemed unsafe to eat

if it's not too contaminated, why not use it for glue, nobody or thing should ever eat that rice !

Radiation is expected to decline year by year.

cesium has half-life of about 30.17 years (in 30 years it will be half as radioactive as 2011)

Where in Tokyo can I buy rice from southern prefectures? Kumamoto should have good rice, but whrere can I buy it?

you can buy rice online, since 3/11 I only buy rice from south of Osaka or lower. I get the rest of my food from Costco (which is cheaper, and lists the contents of most products in English with fat / salt content etc too)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ogata won't need to sell his rice to skeptics. ... The rest he will sell to a local farming cooperative that distributes to corporate buyers, such as restaurants, that are more willing to buy Fukushima rice.

ok, thanks for the heads up, note to self : do not eat rice at any restaurants in Japan for next 60 - 90 years

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@tmarie: brava. Agreed. Lots of land that has been abandoned. Should have relocated these people long ago and this wouldn't even be an issue for these farmers. I gather stubbornness on the Fukushima farmers and the sheer stupidity of the government has played a major role in this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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