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Sunday, April 22, 2012

消費者の選択権を奪う農水省「独自基準やめろ」通達 Food Ministry tells private sector to adhere to the government standard of radiation in food

Scroll down for English. 英語情報とコメントを追加しました。

読売新聞(4月21日)より。
食品検査、独自基準やめて…農水省が通知
食品中に含まれる放射性セシウムの検査で、国の規制値より厳しい独自基準で検査をする動きが広がっているとして、農林水産省は20日、食品関連の270団体に、国の規制値に基づく検査を求める通知を出した。
同省は「独自基準は、国の新規制値を形骸化させる」としている。
国は4月から、暫定規制値(一般食品に含まれるセシウム1キロ・グラム当たり500ベクレル)を改め、新規制値(同100ベクレル)を導入。ただ、一部の食品スーパーや消費者団体などは「消費者により安全・安心を届けたい」として、100ベクレルよりも厳しい規制値を独自に設けている。通知は「過剰な規制と消費段階での混乱」を避けるため、新規制値に基づく検査を要望。規制値は世界的にも厳しい基準であることを強調している。
農水省の通知はここにある。
食品中の放射性物質に係る自主検査における信頼できる分析等について (平成24年4月20日付け24食産第445号農林水産省食料産業局長通知)(PDF:442KB)
食品中の放射性物質に係る自主検査における信頼できる分析等について (平成24年4月20日付け24食産第445号農林水産省食料産業局食品小売サービス課長・食品製造卸売課長通知)(PDF:252KB)

それでは、無農薬、低農薬、無添加の食品を売る業者にはどうして同じような通達を出さないのか。どうして放射性物質に限っては政府が定めた基準の通りに汚染を体内に入れさせられなければいけないのか。まったく理屈が通らない。これは市民の選択権を奪う通達である。

特に食品以外からの被曝が多い汚染地域に住んでいる人たちは、少しでも食品による被曝を最小限にしてトータルの被曝を最小化したいという願いがあるのではないか。ある食品を他の食品より多く食べる人は、その特定の食品については基準以下のものを食べたいという希望があるのではないか。

また、乳児用食品の基準値が一般食品の半分のキロ50ベクレルとされている。乳児は「乳児用食品」として売られているものだけを食べるわけではない。親の食べているものをだんだん食べさせる親や、手作りで離乳食を作る親は、国の基準を守ろうとしても、どうやって買う食材がキロ50ベクレル以下であるとわかるのか。

私たちの健康と、特に未来を担う子どもたちを守るためにも、「国の言う通りに被曝せよ」との通達に抗議する。各地の農業漁業関係者、メーカーも小売店も消費者も、このような通達に惑わされず信念に基づいた行動をとってほしい。@PeacePhilosophy

参考資料

ドイツ放射線防護協会から:チェルノブイリの経験に基づき、野菜、飲料等についての提言

新基準値で更新した「こんなに緩い日本の暫定基準値」

From Mainichi Shimbun report on April 21.
Farm ministry asks food industries to abide by gov't-imposed allowable radiation limits
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120421p2a00m0na012000c.html

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has sent a notification to 270 organizations related to the supermarket, restaurant and other food-related industries, calling for them to abide by government-imposed allowable limits for radiation in their products. There are cases of food-related and other industries setting their own standards that are even tougher than the government-imposed limits, and therefore the agriculture ministry said, "The national standards fully ensure safety. Different standards create confusion." With respect to radioactive cesium in food items, the government set new allowable limits in April at 100 becquerels per kilogram of regular food and 50 becquerels per kilogram of milk and baby food. Suggesting that the government-imposed limits are strict by international standards, the agriculture ministry called for food-related industries to apply the government-imposed standards even to voluntary checks on their food products for radiation in a bid to avoid confusion that could be caused by excessive restrictions. Stressing the need for scientifically reliable analysis even for voluntary inspections, the agriculture ministry has been advising food-related companies to use organizations that are registered with the ministry to conduct independent inspections of their food products. The agriculture ministry has come under criticism and complaints from food-related industries for sending the notification. The Seikatsu Club Consumers' Co-operative Union, which sells and delivers food products to its members across the country, has been inspecting almost all products it handles for radiation, and it set its own standards that are stricter than the national standards on April 1. Hiroshi Tsuchida, in charge of product quality control at the co-operative union, said, "It is the consumers' right to select safer food, and the notification is too demanding. The national standards are not considered reassuring in the first place, and therefore if they are forced upon us, the government will lose all the more confidence." Yukiguni Maitake Co., a major manufacturer and seller of mushrooms in Niigata Prefecture, set its own allowable radiation limit at 40 becquerels per kilogram of mushrooms in November last year and lowered it to 20 becquerels this March. The company said it has not confirmed the receipt of the notification from the agriculture ministry. But it said it would continue to use its own standard. "We understand the importance of protecting producers, but our company has received requests from consumers to lower our standard. We have a responsibility to meet the needs of consumers," an official with the company said.

(Mainichi article end) 
By what right would the government deprive citizens of the right of choice? The government does not issue such directives to food growers and manufacturers that produce foods with low or no pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and additives. Why would it force retailers and consumers to strictly abide by the "allowable" standards only for radiation in food? 

People should be able to make informed choices and retailers and manufacturers should have the right to cater to consumers' needs. Those who live in Fukushima and other contaminated areas may wish to minimize their radiation intake, since they already have taken in more radiation than those in other areas, since 311. Those who eat more of certain foods than other foods may wish to minimize radiation intake from those particular foods. Rice and soy beans are good examples. Many in Japan eat rice and soy beans in each meal, and may wish to eat those foods with as low radiation as possible in order to minimize the total intake. Government and industry SELL food. Consumers EAT food. Those who EAT the food should be able to know and choose what to eat, and what standards of radiation in food they can tolerate.

Another government-oriented (not consumer-oriented) approach in the new standards is the 50 Bq/Kg standard for baby food. Has the government ever given thought to the fact that babies eat foods other than those with "baby food" labels?  Many babies eat from the family members' plates, and food specially prepared by their caregivers. Provided that some parents and caregivers trust and follow the government standard of "allowable radiation" (many don't), how can they obtain ingredients below the baby's standard (50 Bq/kg) when all foods up to 100 Bq/kg are allowed on store shelves?

The government directive orders citizens to be irradiated as the government regulates, without choice and without knowledge. We should strongly protest such a move, and the food growers and manufacturers should stand firm in their principles of radiation protection and meeting consumers' needs, for the health of people, particularly children. @PeacePhilosophy

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