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» Reducing fear of consumers by radiation scanning of rice bags

With some consumers continuing to feel uneasy about buying Fukushima Prefecture products out of fear of radiation, the prefecture’s rice farmers are hoping to reassure them through radiation scanning of all bags of rice before shipping.

There are a total of 173 scanning facilities in Fukushima Prefecture, and all Fukushima rice is sent for scanning by these machines before transportation to the market. Last year, 10 million 30-kilogram bags of rice were scanned across the prefecture, and 99.8 percent were at 25 becquerels or less of radioactive cesium per kilogram.

Only 71 bags, or 0.0007 percent, exceeded the safety limit. The highest amount of radioactive cesium detected was 360 becquerels per kilogram, but this is still lower than the European Union’s safety limit of 1,250 becquerels per kilogram.

Meanwhile, local research has contributed to radiation-lowering techniques for rice crops. The Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre was among groups whose research showed that, when given large amounts of potassium fertilizer, rice plants will take up less cesium, which has similar chemical properties with potassium. The research also found that adding zeolite to soil would absorb cesium, reducing the amount that rice plants take up. Another finding was that cesium levels fall when rice plant straw from harvested plants is left in rice field paddies. Using such data, rice growers have made determined efforts to clean the radiation from their fields.

The nuclear disaster, however, has had an effect on the prices of Fukushima rice. Pre-nuclear disaster, the average price of “koshihikari” rice harvested in Fukushima’s central region was higher than the national average, but after the 2011 disaster the price fell to 91 to 95 percent of the national average. Last year it was up to 96 to 98 percent of the national average. Fukushima Prefecture’s rice harvest, at around 450,000 tons, was the fourth largest in the nation pre-disaster, but last year its harvest was down to 370,000 tons, making it the seventh largest producer.

<Media Report>
Fukushima rice farmers try to ease consumer fears with thorough scanning(Mainichi Newspaper)


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