Scientists “reveal serious biological effects of Fukushima radiation” — “Widespread impacts… from population declines to genetic damage” — “High rates of abnormality and mortality” — “Species have been significantly impacted” by disaster (PHOTOS)

Thursday, August 14, 2014
By Paul Martin
August 14th, 2014

American Genetic Association, Aug 14, 2014: [S]tudies are now beginning to reveal serious biological effects of the Fukushima radiation […] A series of articles summarizing these studies has now been published in the Journal of Heredity. These describe widespread impacts, ranging from population declines to genetic damage […] Common to all of the published studies is the hypothesis that chronic (low-dose) exposure to ionizing radiation results in genetic damage and increased mutation rates in reproductive and non-reproductive cells […] Hayashi et al. 2014 […] documented the effects of radiation on rice […] After three days, a number of effects were observed, including […] stress responses to cell death. […] Taira et al. 2014 […] examined the response of the pale grass blue butterfly […] They found size reduction, slowed growth, high mortality and morphological abnormality […] A review of genetic and ecological studies for a range of other species […] revealed significant consequences of radiation. Population censuses of birds, butterflies, and cicadas at Fukushima showed major declines attributable to radiation exposure. Morphological effects, such as aberrant feathers on barn swallows, were also observed. […] All of these studies highlight the need for early and ongoing monitoring at sites of accidental radiation release.

Journal of Heredity (Oxford Journals), Sept. – Oct. 2014: [B]iologists in Japan, with the collaboration of the international scientific community, began in the summer of 2011 to study outcomes of the nuclear accident in Fukushima. The massive release of ionizing radiation to areas near nuclear power plants may cause major irreversible shifts in ecosystems and severe damage to human health, and understanding the risks and quantifying the outcomes of nuclear accidents is of global concern. [This] collection, the first of such a series for Journal of Heredity, covers 3 diverse taxa: rice plants, butterflies, and birds. Previous studies in genetics and ecological systems […] have demonstrated significant genetic, physiological, developmental, and fitness effects brought about by exposure to ionizing radiation […] some biological outcomes may take years or generations to be expressed. […] Hermann Joseph Muller has already shown in his research from 1927 onward that ionizing radiation causes genetic damage, and that the vast majority of such variations are likely to be deleterious […]

Dr. Timothy Mousseau, University of South Carolina, Aug 14, 2014: “A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster […] Detailed analyses of genetic impacts to natural populations could provide the information needed to predict recovery times for wild communities at Fukushima as well as any sites of future nuclear accidents. There is an urgent need for greater investment in basic scientific research of the wild animals and plants of Fukushima.”

Dr. Randeep Rakwal, University of Tsukuba (Japan), Aug 14, 2014: “The experimental design employed in this work will provide a new way to test how the entire rice plant genome responds to ionizing radiation under field conditions.”

Dr. Joji Otaki, University of the Ryukyus (Japan), Aug 14, 2014: “Non-contaminated larvae fed leaves from contaminated host plants collected near the reactor showed high rates of abnormality and mortality.”

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