Category: Current Affairs
Published on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 00:00
It's been 3 years but recovery is still slow in Tohoku. the people desperately need some economic income to help them rebuild their lives.
There's been a lot of heated rhetoric (mostly by wanna be politicians within the opposition camp) lately that PM Lee's decision to allow food imports from Fukushima endangers Singaporeans.
These individuals allege that anything from Fukushima is unsafe and open Singapore up to radioactive contamination. The claims that these people make are from a foundation of hatred for the g and a glaring ignorance with no knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes both in Japan and Singapore, and thus shouldn't be taken seriously by the general public.
Which is why the following parliamentary question filed during the this week's parliament sitting by Mr. Seah Kian Peng, is timely and debunks the fear mongering that some Singaporeans are using to advance their anti government agenda. (Note: Mr. Seah Kian Peng is the CEO of NTUC Fairprice, one of the biggest supermarket chains in Singapore):
Written Answer by Ministry of National Development on food imports from Fukushima
07 Jul 2014 07:00 PM (originally found here
Mr Seah Kian Peng: To ask the Minister for National Development:
(a) What are the considerations behind the recent lifting of restrictions on food imports from Fukushima; and
(b) What measures are taken to ensure that the food hygiene and safety aspects of products imported from this region are upheld?
Food hygiene and food safety are the key considerations in our policies governing food imports. Our objective is to ensure that food is safe for Singaporeans to eat. We will never compromise on this objective.
2. Following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant incident, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) implemented a series of import control measures and surveillance testing on Japanese food imports. Since January 2013, AVA has not detected any radioactive contamination in its testing of samples of Japanese imported food. AVA’s test results have been corroborated by tests conducted by Japan. There are also no recent reports by other countries of any significant radioactive contamination in their Japanese food imports.
3. In March 2014, AVA conducted an on-site inspection in Japan to review its food safety system. AVA is satisfied that Japan has implemented measures to mitigate the risk of radioactive contamination in food products. Examples include the extensive inspection and testing system for food before distribution to consumers or for export, and decontaminating the soil in agriculture land. Based on its inspections of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima conducted in 2013, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is of the view that the food supply chain in Japan is safely under control.
4. Hence, AVA decided to ease some of its restrictions on imports from Japan. However, some restrictions will remain. First, we will continue to ban imports of seafood and forest products from Fukushima. Second, we will also continue to ban food products from the highly contaminated areas including the 20 km radius zone around the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
5. Third, all Japanese food imports will continue to be subjected to these AVA’s measures:
a) All food consignments must be accompanied by a certificate of origin (COO) to show the prefecture of origin of the food;
b) Prefectures close to Fukushima (i.e. Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma, etc) have to show evidence from its surveillance that the products are free from radioactive contaminants; and
c) Fukushima prefecture has to show evidence from surveillance testing that the production areas of food for export to Singapore are free from radioactive contaminants.
6. AVA will continue to closely monitor food imports from Japan and carry out surveillance testing to ensure that they comply with our food safety requirements.
As you can see the Ministry reply talks about the rigorous screening process by AVA to ensure that the food imported from Fukushima is safe for general consumption. The parliamentary reply however, neglects to mention the fact that all food from Fukushima is itself subject to rigorous testing by numerous NGOs
based in Japan that are on the look out for any "hot" ( also known as contaminated) samples.
The same privately tested food is also tested by the Japanese government to ensure that their own citizens are safe. The US FDA
also tests Fukushima food and monitors developments with Dai Ichi to ensure that Japanese imports are safe for American consumption. It's pretty obvious that Fukushima imported food is safe for consumption since the food in question is able to pass through so many international food safety filters.
So why are Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Lee Hsien Loong so keen to ease restrictions on Fukushima food? It might have to do with this overlooked fact: both leaders recognize that the farmers living within the region are still struggling to recover the from the effects of the Tohoku disaster. Both leaders are keenly aware that the afflicted farmers of Fukushima need the income from selling their crops to be able to rebuild their lives and their homes. So the question has to be asked: Do we let ignorant fear mongering move us to have a problem with doing something to help other human beings recover from calamity? Or do we brush off the naysayers, listen to the food safety experts, understand what the leaders of two nations are trying to do and spend a little money to help someone who is worse off than us have a better tomorrow? I think the answer in this case is pretty obvious.