Quantcast

Japanese Cooperatives Help Identify Radiation in Soil and Food Post-Fukushima

Food

By Nicola Wong

Cooperatives are the backbone for Japan’s rural economy through their presence in agriculture, fisheries and even forestry. From rural to urban, farmer to consumer, and junior to elderly, cooperatives play a critical role throughout the Japanese economy. Since 1900, the Japan Agriculture Cooperative Group has been present in every village and nearly 100 percent of farm households join the cooperatives; every rural village has a co-op store and access to co-op financing and co-op insurance.

Japanese Farmer Photo credit: gullevek/Flickr

In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, government officials have plans to remove radioactive materials from farmlands and forests until no radioactive cesium is detected in agricultural, livestock and forestry products. As mentioned in an article by Hrabrin Bachev and Fusao Ito from the Institute of Agricultural Economics, "throughout Japan, there are fears of radioactive contamination leaking into the food system, which has caused consumers to reject products."

The Japan agriculture cooperative group has had a critical role in combating the challenges with the present system of safety inspection and has teamed up with Fukushima University to rebuild consumer confidence in local produce. Together, they have collaborated to launch a Soil Screening Project, which tests the levels of contamination in several different agriculture areas. This has helped farmers keep an eye on the levels of radioactive contamination on their land and produce.

In addition, the Japan agriculture cooperative has also implemented several levels of inspections to check radiation in foods to assure public safety. According to Mr. Nagashima, working at the Agriculture Cooperative in Fukushima, “farmers are trying to satisfy the government’s strict standard for the radioactive contamination in order to address consumer concerns.” These cooperatives help the farmers by absorbing some of the safety test costs and also help market and store their produce that they are unable to sell immediately.

For example, the Central Union of Agriculture Co-operatives, also known as the JA, is the biggest cooperative in Japan. The JA was formed when the government reorganized an entity that used to regulate aspects of farming villages during the war. According to Yamashita Kazuhito, the research director at the Canon Institute for Global Studies, "all Japanese citizens can join the local JA as member to make use of the different JA business outlets to sell their products. Although members do not have a say in the decision-making process of how the different business outlets are run, members are allowed to take out mortgages, car loans and insurance."

In Japan, 9.1 million family farmers are members of cooperatives and they provide 257,000 jobs. Therefore, cooperatives have a significant amount of power in affecting change in the lives of small-scale farmers with whom they work with. They have shown that they can empower groups by embracing social responsibility in times of public fear.

Visit EcoWatch’s FOOD and NUCLEAR pages for more related news on this topic.

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Individual standing in Hurricane Harvey flooding and damage. Jill Carlson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Allegra Kirkland, Jeremy Deaton, Molly Taft, Mina Lee and Josh Landis

Climate change is already here. It's not something that can simply be ignored by cable news or dismissed by sitting U.S. senators in a Twitter joke. Nor is it a fantastical scenario like The Day After Tomorrow or 2012 that starts with a single crack in the Arctic ice shelf or earthquake tearing through Los Angeles, and results, a few weeks or years later, in the end of life on Earth as we know it.

Read More Show Less
A pregnant woman works out in front of the skyline of London. SHansche / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Air pollution particles that a pregnant woman inhales have the potential to travel through the lungs and breach the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are exposed to black carbon from motor vehicles and fuel burning, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Teen activist Greta Thunberg delivered a talking-to to members of Congress Tuesday during a meeting of the Senate Climate Change Task Force after politicians praised her and other youth activists for their efforts and asked their advice on how to fight climate change.

Read More Show Less
Ten feet of water flooded 20 percent of this Minot, North Dakota neighborhood in June 2011. DVIDSHUB / CC BY 2.0

By Jared Brey

When Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida panhandle last October, it killed at least 43 people, caused an estimated $25 billion in damage and destroyed thousands of homes.

Read More Show Less
A protestor holds up her hand covered with fake oil during a demonstration on the U.C. Berkeley campus in May 2010. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The University of California system will dump all of its investments from fossil fuels, as the Associated Press reported. The university system controls over $84 billion between its pension fund and its endowment. However, the announcement about its investments is not aimed to please activists.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Forest fire continues to blaze in Indonesesia on Sept. 18. WAHYUDI / AFP / Getty Images

Nearly 200 people have been arrested in Indonesia over their possible connections to the massive wildfires raging in the nation's forest, officials said this week.

Read More Show Less

By Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

World leaders have a formidable task: setting a course to save our future. The extreme weather made more frequent and severe by climate change is here. This spring, devastating cyclones impacted 3 million people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Record heatwaves are hitting Europe and other regions — this July was the hottest month in modern record globally. Much of India is again suffering severe drought.

Read More Show Less
Covering Climate Now / YouTube screenshot

By Mark Hertsgaard

The United Nations Secretary General says that he is counting on public pressure to compel governments to take much stronger action against what he calls the climate change "emergency."

Read More Show Less