Thursday, April 07, 2011

Screening Food For Radiation

I saw this story and had some thoughts:

Screening the Day’s Catch for Radiation, New York Times, April 5, 2011*

1. Wouldn't it be nice if restaurants and food retailers also had a bacteria wand they could wave over food to detect levels of toxic microorganisms? People get sick and die from E. coli too. Not to downplay the radiation risk though, because...

2. They keep saying the radioactivity in food in not harmful. "Everything detected has been well below levels considered dangerous." This is not true. All radiation increases risk for cancer. Not to sound alarmist though because normal metabolism creates radicals that can damage DNA too. Radiation from ground (radon) and air (cosmic) also bombard our cells. What matters is how well a body repairs damage.

3. What would growers like Earthbound Farms in California do if they did find unacceptable levels of radioactivity in their fields, their soil? Abandon them? Truck acres of soil out and truck acres of uncontaminated soil in? I'm beginning to think that these tests are primarily to calm a jittery public so they will continue buying product.

4. Where is all the contaminated food going? Do they use it to make pet food? Do they burn it or throw it in a landfill? Feed it to farmed fish and livestock? Don't all these methods just move the contamination from one place to another? And we're back to what to do with all our nuclear waste. Really, we need to answer this question before we build more nuclear reactors.

* The New York Times now has a pay wall after 20 articles/month. I read that you can still read an article if you're entering their site from a link on a blog. I hope that's true!
Photo from New York Times: "A chef at Le Bernardin in Manhattan checking fish for radiation on Tuesday."


anrosh said...

this would be wonderful.
for a fish obsessed person like me - i would buy the instrument myself, worth every penny - will save me a lot of money and heart ache than paying for cancer treatment

Perovskia said...

I like what you said with #3.