Saturday, March 19, 2011


It was simply a matter of time. As I have been arguing for the past few days, the spread of fairly high levels of radiation in Japan will contaminate growing food. And, I said that the experience of Chernobyl suggested that vegetables like leafy greens and milk would be first to be affected. I was right.

Today Associated Press, Reuters and other news sources reported that the levels of radiation contamination found in spinach and milk on farms near the affected nuclear plant (some as far as 60 miles away) now exceed government safety levels. Further tests are being done and shipments of food from the area may be stopped and people advised not to eat them.

If that does happen, the same thing could occur as did after the Chernobyl: the food will be sold informally and eaten locally anyway, in spite of government warnings. Why? Because there is food scarcity in many disaster-affected places. People who are faced with a choice between hunger and the risk of a little toxic food, will often opt for the latter.

The good news is that a few meals will be unlikely to affect them. But eating it over a period of time - say a year - could do so, especially in the case of children, and with people also exposed to radiation directly.


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