The Self Measuring Radiation Movement for Alternative Food Networks

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 3:34 PM
Room: Booth 61
Oral Presentation
Megumi NAKAGAWA , Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
This report argues that measuring radiation by civic groups plays an important role for Alternative Food Networks (AFNs) in current Japan. Since the 1990’s, the localized agro-food movements have spread in several countries; the United States, European countries and East Asian countries including Japan. These movements have mainly dealt with economic issues, social justice, ecology and inheritance of indigenous food culture. Today, the AFNs groups in Japan face the new issue, which is contamination of foods by radiation.

On March 11 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake and the tsunami triggered a series of serious accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants. Since then, Japanese have been concerned about the effect of radiation on domestically grown agricultural products. In the cases of AFNs, members tend to connect with each other directly because someone of farmers, consumers or coordinators between them have to check the food secure by themselves. Since the winter of 2011, so many grass-roots groups to measure radiation of foods have emerged.There are 110 groups as of June 2013, and most of them are located in eastern Japan. The total number of samples which those groups already have been measured equals to the number of samples officially measured by the Japanese government.

This report is based on the author’s participatory observed research in one of such civic groups in Miyagi Prefecture from January 2013, where is one of the most severely damaged area. I found the major roles of measuring radiation are that the members can judge the level of safety by themselves based on their own experiences. They can share not only the data of radiation but also the information about how to minimize the effects of radiation. Finally the implications of this study for AFNs will be discussed.