Japan: Fukushima Radiation Causing Genetic Mutations In Multiple Generations Of Butterflies
By Shingo Ito, AFP – “Genetic mutations have been found in three generations of butterflies from near Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, scientists said Tuesday, raising fears radiation could affect other species.
Around 12 percent of pale grass blue butterflies that were exposed to nuclear fallout as larvae immediately after the tsunami-sparked disaster had abnormalities, including smaller wings and damaged eyes, researchers said.
The insects were mated in a laboratory well outside the fallout zone and 18 percent of their offspring displayed similar problems, said Joji Otaki, associate professor at Ryukyu University in Okinawa, southwestern Japan.
That figure rose to 34 percent in the third generation of butterflies, he said, even though one parent from each coupling was from an unaffected population.
The researchers also collected another 240 butterflies in Fukushima in September last year, six months after the disaster. Abnormalities were recorded in 52 percent of their offspring, which was ‘a dominantly high ratio’, Otaki told AFP.
Otaki said the high ratio could result from both external and internal exposure to radiation, from the atmosphere and in contaminated foodstuffs…
Otaki later carried out a comparison test in Okinawa exposing unaffected butterflies to low levels of radiation, with the results showing similar rates of abnormality, he said.
‘We have reached the firm conclusion that radiation released from the Fukushima Daiichi plant damaged the genes of the butterflies,’ Otaki said…
Researchers and medical doctors have so far denied that the accident at Fukushima would cause an elevated incidence of cancer or leukaemia, diseases that are often associated with radiation exposure.
But they also noted that long-term medical examination is needed especially due to concerns over thyroid cancer among young people — a particular problem for people following the Chernobyl catastrophe.
‘There are a number of unknown factors surrounding the genetic impact of radiation,’ said Makoto Yamada, a medical doctor who examines Fukushima residents. ‘We still cannot 100 percent deny that the impact may come out in the future.’” Read more.