Crops in front of nuclear plantWith reports that food in Japan contains higher levels of radiation than previously thought, concern about food imported from Japan to China, Taiwan, India South Korea and Malaysia is being addressed by the World Health Organization. Experts believe that the situation is very serious for the Japanese and worry that they may be at an increased risk of certain cancers and thyroid damage if they eat radioactive-contaminated food near the earthquake-damaged Daiichi nuclear plant.  Leafy green vegetables, milk, egg and meat are the food with the highest potential for contamination.

Health officials from the WHO told Yahoo! Reuters that they do not believe that eating imported Japanese food outside Japan is dangerous but that is not alleviating any fears in countries that import Japanese food.  Any agricultural produce or food process from agricultural produce will be heavily scrutinized. China is inspecting food from Japan for contamination and South Korea has decided to expand their radiation inspections.  Taiwan is going to destroy a shipment of beans from southern Japan even though radiation levels were within limits. Raw food that Japan supplies to Malaysia’s biggest sushi restaurant chain will not be imported and a major New Delhi supplier has taken the same course of action. And Japan has taken its own steps and stopped exporting raw milk and placed on hold on shipments of spinach which were processed in plants near the nuclear plant.

This also shows the serious economic impact disasters can have on a global economy. Although I believe that countries and businesses that are refusing to import Japanese food are looking out for the best interest of their people as they should, this will hurt economically. Whether this adds to the current economic instability felt by many around the world has yet to be seen but this disaster is an example of how a crisis in one part of the world has a global effect. We can no longer separate ourselves from major events and say “This is not our problem.” Every major event is everyone’s problem whether we want it to be or not. And even when experts tell us that it is safe for those of us outside Japan to eat food they import, we have a hard time believing it. To me this demonstrates that we as human beings know we are all connected, especially in crisis.

Image courtesy of sporst