power – strom und macht

Cesium-Resistant Rice

Susanne Gerber


A research agency in Fukushima Prefecture has begun testing about 110 varieties of Japanese and foreign rice in a search for strains that absorb less radioactive cesium from the soil. The project, which was initiated by the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Center in Koriyama, after the meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, is unprecedented in that no research has ever been done on rice grown on land tainted by relatively high amounts of radioactive matter, the center’s research team said. The research is important since the radioactive fallout from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant will likely disrupt rice farming in nearby areas for years to come, it said. „We might be able to develop new (cesium-resistant) rice strains if we find rice varieties that absorb less cesium through this project and cross them with Japanese rice,“ said Keisuke Nemoto, professor at the University of Tokyo’s graduate school and a member of the team. The team is looking at a wide range of strains from South America, Africa and Asia, including India and Bangladesh. Last week, harvested rice from Ibaraki Prefecture was found to contain low levels of cesium for the first time since the nuclear crisis. One sample of brown rice from Hokota, about 150 km from the Fukushima No. 1 plant, had 52 becquerels per kilogram of cesium in preliminary tests. The central government’s provisional limit for cesium in grains is 500 becquerels per kg. The Fukushima Agricultural center detected some 3,700 becquerels per kg of cesium in soil on its property, which is close to the government-set limit of 5,000 becquerels per kg of cesium for soil to grow rice. In the past, Japanese researchers have studied the effects of radioactivity on rice cultivation based on data collected from nuclear weapons tests carried out by the United States and the former Soviet Union, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.

No data are available, however, on rice grown on soil heavily contaminated with radioactive substances, the team said.


Filed under: Fukushima, Meltdown, Radiation, Research

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