Public concerns over food safety do not seem to have been alleviated following recent disasters such as the outbreak of domestic foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan that caused the nuclear crisis in Fukushima Daiichi. Though the government has tried to reassure the public that distributed produce items are harmless to humans, many Koreans remain skeptical. Therefore, news about food safety concerns has been receiving a lot of attention these days.
Many underground water sources near livestock burial sites were polluted by the contaminated water of cattle sheds. Some property owners of neighboring lands sued the local government, and it lost credibility. As a result, many people have avoided buying agricultural products or drinking tap water.
People around the world looked on in horror as some Japanese showed signs of exposure to harmful radiation. Koreans, especially, have been confused about whether or not they would be harmed through exposure to radioactive wind and rain water and consumption of agricultural or aquatic products exposed to radiation.
According to news reports, the amount of radioactive particles in the air and rain water has been so minute that there is no risk to human health. However, the government's assurances over the safety of radioactive materials have not relieved the concerns of citizens.
Some experts and citizens point out that this data ware produced by government-affiliated organizations, which differs from results released by scientists in the private sector. The level of radiation announced by the government, particularly the Korean Institute of Nuclear Safety, is much lower than that announced by private monitoring organizations.
Furthermore, there is no certainty whether or not Korea is really safe from radiation. Considering the high levels of radiation that still exist in and around Chernobyl, radiation could be found in the air for quite a long time. People can be exposed to harmful radiation for decades or even longer. Future generations could suffer from the effects, so the safety of food must be confirmed thoroughly. Subsequently, parents would be able to find ways to provide healthy meals to their children, and the concerns of pregnant women could be overcome. Many people think that they can protect themselves from harmful radiation by eating certain natural foods, such as seaweed. However, according to the Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA), this is not possible.
As a result of natural and man-made disasters, the environment is gradually deteriorating, affecting billions of people around the world. Nevertheless, we can overcome disasters by doing our best to protect the environment and the people who inhabit it. The first step is to have access to accurate information about nature’s impact on human health and safety. If reliable data based on systematic research are made available to the public, there would be no speculative denial or confusion anymore.
Yun Seon-ju firstname.lastname@example.org
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