Nature News summarizes what we’ve learned so far. Excerpt:
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster spewed radiation across northern Japan in March, some feared that farming there would be shut down for years. But early studies of how the radiation has accumulated in plants and the soil now suggest that farmers in much of the region can go back to work.
Soon after the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi, the government evacuated people living within 30 kilometres of the plant, and later imposed restrictions on agricultural products. Those measures are still in place, and the government has not yet announced a clear strategy for dealing with the contaminated areas. “People are panicking because there are no data,” says plant radiophysiology expert Tomoko Nakanishi at the University of Tokyo.
Nakanishi is coordinating seven teams to study the impact of the disaster on soil, plants, animals, fisheries and forests for the next decade, measuring contamination levels and assessing the long-term threat. Their first results, to appear in the Japanese journal Radioisotopes in August, paint a surprisingly optimistic picture.