Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

Pexels

By Shawna Foo

Anyone who's tending a garden right now knows what extreme heat can do to plants. Heat is also a concern for an important form of underwater gardening: growing corals and "outplanting," or transplanting them to restore damaged reefs.

Read More Show Less
Malte Mueller / Getty Images

By David Korten

Our present course puts humans on track to be among the species that expire in Earth's ongoing sixth mass extinction. In my conversations with thoughtful people, I am finding increasing acceptance of this horrific premise.

Read More Show Less
Women sort potatoes in the Andes Mountains near Cusco Peru on July 7, 2014. Thomas O'Neill / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Alejandro Argumedo

August 9 is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples – a celebration of the uniqueness of the traditions of Quechua, Huli, Zapotec, and thousands of other cultures, but also of the universality of potatoes, bananas, beans, and the rest of the foods that nourish the world. These crops did not arise out of thin air. They were domesticated over thousands of years, and continue to be nurtured, by Indigenous people. On this day we give thanks to these cultures for the diversity of our food.

Read More Show Less
A sand tiger shark swims over the USS Tarpon in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Tane Casserley / NOAA

By John R. Platt

Here at The Revelator, we love a good shark story.

The problem is, there aren't all that many good shark stories. According to recent research, sharks and their relatives represent one of the world's most imperiled groups of species. Of the more than 1,250 known species of sharks, skates, rays and chimeras — collectively known as chondrichthyan fishes — at least a quarter are threatened with extinction.

Read More Show Less
The Anderson Community Group. Left to right, Caroline Laur, Anita Foust, the Rev. Bryon Shoffner, and Bill Compton, came together to fight for environmental justice in their community. Anderson Community Group

By Isabella Garcia

On Thanksgiving Day 2019, right after Caroline Laur had finished giving thanks for her home, a neighbor at church told her that a company had submitted permit requests to build an asphalt plant in their community. The plans indicated the plant would be 250 feet from Laur's backdoor.

Read More Show Less
Berber woman cooks traditional flatbread using an earthen oven in her mud-walled village home located near the historic village of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco, Africa on Jan. 4, 2016. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. /NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg and Jason Flatt

The world's Indigenous Peoples face severe and disproportionate rates of food insecurity. While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5 percent of the world's population, they account for 15 percent of the world's poor, according to the World Health Organization.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Danny Choo / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Olivia Sullivan

One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.

Read More Show Less