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Fujitsu Is Growing Radiation-Free Lettuce In Japan's Fukushima Prefecture

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  • Sure! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2014 @02:40PM (#47040179)

    They'll be saying something different when a 300 foot radioactive lettuce monster is attacking Tokyo....

    • by JDeane (1402533)

      Biollante VS Godzilla?

  • Yeah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HideyoshiJP (1392619) on Monday May 19, 2014 @02:40PM (#47040183)
    Fukushima's a pretty big prefecture (13,782.54 km2/5,321.47 sq mi). It's ranked third by area [wikipedia.org]. I'm sure there's plenty of safe land there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572)

      Yeah, and why would you want a lettuce low in potassium and nitrates anyway? You need those things to live!

      People think Japan is basically 90% uninhabitable because of nuclear holocaust. I want to move out of the US to escape the stupidity.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I want to move out of the US to escape the stupidity.

        Come to Canada, eh?

        No wait... Dictator Harper is still in command.

        Move along.

      • Potassium yes, nitrates no.

        Most people in developed countries eat way to much nitrates via sodium nitrate which is used as a preservative in things like hot dogs, sausages, beef jerky, ground beef (pink slime).

        • Re:Yeah... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Monday May 19, 2014 @03:19PM (#47040461) Journal

          The study that originally connected nitrates with cancer risk and caused the scare in the first place has since been discredited after being subjected to a peer review. There have been major reviews of the scientific literature that found no link between nitrates or nitrites and human cancers, or even evidence to suggest that they may be carcinogenic. Further, recent research suggests that nitrates and nitrites may not only be harmless, they may be beneficial, especially for immunity and heart health.

          Amusing stuff [chriskresser.com]. More nitrate from vegetables than from like 500 hotdogs. 90% of your nitrite exposure comes from internal manufacture.

          • very interesting, thanks for the link. imma go eat more beef jerky now, I love that stuff xD

          • Yet the EPA wants to warn me my well water is board line unsafe because of nitrates. So...... do I need to buy a system to remove nitrates or not??

            • Yes, you concentrate them and convert it into nitroglycerin, just like any red blooded, paranoid - psychotic would do.

              Thus the EPA feeds the ATF and the cycle of American life is complete!

            • I would imagine if you consumed 1000 times more nitrates than is considered safe in food, you may have issues. Toxicology is about dosage. Our river water is borderline unsafe because of sodium chloride.
            • by geekoid (135745)

              It's the dose that makes the poison. - Paracelsus

              If you have a problem with the current ppm, or the science they use to come to tat number, then state it and we can talk. idiotic statements that make it sound like you can't think about things in a complex way are beneath you.

              http://water.epa.gov/drink/con... [epa.gov]

          • People fearing MSG because it is everywhere. I tried to explain calmly, that glutamate as amino acid is something around 7% (IIRC) prevalence in protein, so unless you are eating no protein whatsoever , you will eat a lot of glutamate. Also the body internally itself produce 90% (IIRC) of the glutamate for protein creation. But no matter the argument , I could not convince the person that MSG is harmless especially considered the very low quantity.
            • You sig tells me you're a genuine skeptic. :)
            • by HiThere (15173)

              And the sodium in MSG isn't worrisome?

              Now I'll grant you that most people eat so much salt that they shouldn't be bothered by that increased dosage, but others are (and have reason to be) more careful. Glutamate is useful and important, but the added sodium is concerning, and needs to be carefully counted into ones daily sodium intake.

              • by quenda (644621)

                It is not added sodium. Adding MSG to food reduces the need for common salt. So you should end up with less sodium.
                As for those people who bury their meal in salt before even tasting it, well, they deserve a heart attack.

                • by HiThere (15173)

                  No. There *IS* no need for added salt. None. The salt that is normally present, if you eat a reasonable quantity of ocean fish, is sufficient. You don't need any more.

                  My wife has been on a strictly limited diet since her extreme youth, and (outside of results from a congenital heart problem) has no trouble with a salt free diet. I will admit that those who physically labor in a hot environment have additional need for salt. Usually, however, this is not expected to be addressed via spicing of food.

                  • by quenda (644621)

                    No. There *IS* no need for added salt.

                    That depends what you mean by "need". I once made bread and forgot the salt. Edible, but surprisingly unpleasant, not just bland.
                    I suppose you could get used to it, but why? Moderation can be both healthy and tasty.
                    The problem is very high salt levels in processed and take-away food, not the half-teaspoon added to the pot at home.

                    if you eat a reasonable quantity of ocean fish, is sufficient.

                    Isn't that for iodine, rather than sodium?

                    • by HiThere (15173)

                      I have frequently made bread without salt. This caused no major problems, though one did need to adapt the recepie. Just use other spices. A good one is curry. (The curry I use is salt-free.) Another is Italian Herb mix. I should try Chinese 5-spice, but I never have. Tomato sauce, however, tends to produce bread with large, hard, sharp bubbles. I could probably tinker with the recipie to improve it, but I haven't. There are MANY alternatives that yield quite good bread.

                      OTOH, making bread is a lo

                    • by quenda (644621)

                      Yuck. I mean, each to his own.
                      Tomato, BTW is naturally loaded with glutamate.

                    • by HiThere (15173)

                      But I wasn't concerned about glutamate. Only salt. And I used salt-free tomato sauce. I think it was the sugar in to tomato sauce that caused the bubbles to be so large, I don't know what made them hard. If this is so, however, I could have solved the problem by growing some yeast in the tomato sauce before I used it.

              • The concern is "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome", a disease caused by neurotoxic brain damage from MSG. ... not really. But that's what the news papers said: MSG causes brain damage.
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              People fearing MSG because it is everywhere. I tried to explain calmly, that glutamate as amino acid is something around 7% (IIRC) prevalence in protein, so unless you are eating no protein whatsoever , you will eat a lot of glutamate.

              Oh yeah? What percentage of it is monosodium glutamate?

              • There's plenty of glutimate salts in pork and sea kelp, including monosodium glutamate. The sodium ion breaks off in the same way as table salt; it reacts away eventually, and is metabolized as glutamate.

                Biologically, it's harmless. Pharmacologically, we do this all the time: dexamphetamine sulfate is a sulfur salt of dextrorotary amphetamine, which is itself a vapor at room temperatures; naproxen similarly isn't readily available--it's insoluble in water--and so we use the sodium salt.

                More complex, pa

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  I note that the answer to my actual question was not forthcoming.

                  My response could also be boiled down to you can drown in one inch of water, and too much or too little salt in your body will literally kill you. And I note that when you ask about natural levels of nitrates or MSG, you start to get prevarication back.

                  • Sorry, short version: It doesn't actually matter.

                    The question, "How much of the glutamate is monosodium glutamate," is meaningless. The relevant considerations are how much sodium and how much glutamate are present, as monosodium glutamate is, nutritionally and toxicologically, equivalent to sodium and glutamate.

                    In other words: if you have 1 gram of MSG, versus an identical amount of sodium (in some other non-toxic form, such as sodium chloride) and glutamate, you have the same things. This is unli

          • Re:Yeah... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday May 19, 2014 @07:51PM (#47042505)

            The study that originally connected nitrates with cancer risk and caused the scare in the first place has since been discredited after being subjected to a peer review. There have been major reviews of the scientific literature that found no link between nitrates or nitrites and human cancers, or even evidence to suggest that they may be carcinogenic.

            That's because those studies were of nitrates, not the high-temperature products of cooking nitrate-laden organics like beef: as nitrosamines.

            As I posted in another link above: nitrates themselves are known to be pretty benign. But there is plenty of good evidence over a period of decades that cooking nitrate-cured food (like hot dogs) produces nitrosamines that are well-known (and long studied) carcinogens.

            Nitrates themselves are probably not much concern. In fact nitrates are known, often-prescribed vasodilators. (Know anybody who takes nitroglycerine for heart problems?)

            As with so many other things, nitrates are not necessarily evil. It is what you do with them that counts.

            • by HiThere (15173)

              It's not just cooking. You got it right the first time, it's high temperature cooking. Boiled hot dogs don't have increased nitroseamines. (Not sure about microwaved hot dogs.) Grilled hot dogs do. So do fried hot dogs. Steamed hot dogs are safe (except for some brands that add nitroseamines in ahead of time to improve the flavor).

              • Steamed hot dogs are safe (except for some brands that add nitroseamines in ahead of time to improve the flavor).

                Microwaving has been shown to minimize the formation of nitrosamines. I'm not claiming that it eliminates them entirely.

              • Love your tagline, by the way.
            • Yes but we know that well-done meat increases stomach cancer. If you're charring, you deserve your gutrot. It takes 19 seconds to cook a steak properly.
          • by Archtech (159117)

            "A study led by King’s College London found that the combination of olive oil and salad holds the key to keeping the risk of high blood pressure down. A large salad with a simple dressing combines the necessary unsaturated fats with nitrate-rich vegetables".

            http://www.independent.co.uk/l... [independent.co.uk]

        • Potassium yes, nitrates no.

          Not quite so fast. Nitrates on their own are pretty benign. It is when they are subjected to heat that they form nitrosamines, which are potent carcinogens.

          Cold foods that contain nitrates (within reason of course), as long as they were also cold-processed (cold smoked or cold cured), are generally of very small concern. It is that crispy bacon and burnt barbecue hot dogs you should be concerned about.

          That is why bacon cooked in the microwave -- and especially not overcooked to crispiness -- is a lot

      • Even MORE importantly

        The trial vegetable farm was set up in a clean room of a renovated semiconductor fabrication plant and is totally free of chemicals.

        How the hell are they growing anything without chemicals such as oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water?!?

        Serious answer: the article mentions the low potassium as good for people with chronic kidney disease. Nitrate free means less bitter. But if you need such expensive facilities to do so, then it's kind of stupid marketing. It doesn't sound like growing plants without nitrates or potassium is shocking scientifically.

        • If everything is a chemical, why would they bother using the term?

          The only place I've seen someone refer to carbon dioxide as a "chemical" is in chemical equations. Water even less so.

          • If everything is a chemical, why would they bother using the term?

            Because they are borderline retards.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            It's important when selling things as chemical free, and trying to use 'chemicals' to sound like that are sciency and thus bad, unlike the natural organic stuff that contain no chemicals.

            herp, derp.

          • Nothing tortures everyday terminology more than a marketing department. "Organic" is an abbreviation of "organic chemistry", ie: something made from chemicals containing the element carbon (such as crude oil, bacon, carrots, etc). In other words the set of all chemicals includes the set of all organic chemicals. It's little wonder people are confused about the terminology when they have had "organic=good, chemical=bad" shoved down their throat for the last 30-40yrs by people selling everything from condoms
        • by nojayuk (567177)

          They're not using any pesticides or herbicides as they would have to in the "wild". There are no caterpillars, no fungus or microbial antagonists or weed seeds that could destroy or deplete the crop, they're kept at bay because the facility is a clean-room setup with filtered air and water. That's the big "no chemicals" deal with this greenhouse.

        • It doesn't sound like growing plants without nitrates or potassium is shocking scientifically.

          Lots of people here are missing the point. While nitrogen and nitrates may be controversial, lack of potassium in their lettuce is a big deal in the Fukushima region because potassium 40 is radioactive. You don't want your lettuce to absorb an extra neutron here and there and become even more radioactive. That probably would not market well.

      • In many vegetables, potassium is the most radioactive part [wikipedia.org].

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        The problem is that in order to escape stupidity, you must leave the planet entirely.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          The problem is that in order to escape stupidity, you must leave the planet entirely and not take a mirror.

          Everyone does stupid things, and most things the seem stupid aren't, you are just missing information,

      • It's got electrolytes!

      • by Krishnoid (984597)

        People think Japan is basically 90% uninhabitable because of nuclear holocaust. I want to move out of the US to escape the stupidity.

        That's uninformed and ridiculous; the area affected by that is only about 5%. The other 85% is accounted for by the recurring giant monster attacks.

      • Why would you want a lettuce low in potassium and nitrates anyway?

        Wassa matter, you don't eat Flintstones Vitamins?

      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        Yeah, and why would you want a lettuce low in potassium

        Because potassium is the source of something like a third of your daily radiation dose. Didn't you know that?

        and nitrates anyway?

        Nitrogen reacts with electrons to form carbon-14, which is not only radioactive death for everyone who ever even hears about it, but it's also the work of Satan because Evil-utionists use it to prove that dinosaurs are cool and make Baby Jesus cry.

        I want to move out of the US to escape the stupidity.

        Communist!

    • Re:Yeah... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Charliemopps (1157495) on Monday May 19, 2014 @03:02PM (#47040327)

      It's a little over 50 miles away if you just Google the address. It's just outside the exclusion zone set by the US government for US citizens.

      It's INSIDE what was once the companies clean room. So it's distance from the reactor is irrelevant. The point of what they're doing is that they can grow food irrelevant of the conditions outside. Year round. The plants they are growing are specialized for people who have kidney diseases. The lower potassium makes them easier on the liver and the lower nitrates make them for palatable to children and likely people undergoing chemo. i.e. It costs a lot to grow food this way, so they picked a food people were more willing to pay a premium for.

    • Yeah, but that doesn't mean people are eating the vegetables grown there. There are ads on the train all the time where idol groups advertise Fukushima vegetables. Many consumers in Japan still won't eat them(the prefecture/country of origin is shown when you buy fresh produce in Japan).

      This of course is just amplifying the pain that Fukushima prefecture is experiencing. The population of Fukushima dropped by about 3% from 2010 to 2005 [wikipedia.org], and that was BEFORE the earthquake. The population has dropped a
  • Reno's Radiation Free Reindeer Steaks!

    Man I loved that movie.

  • Is this the world we live in now? Sad.
  • by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Monday May 19, 2014 @02:50PM (#47040259)
    Nothing in existence is "radiation free". There is no such thing. There are MANY MANY MANY naturally occuring radioisotopes. A major one is Carbon-14, which ALL organic materials contain to some degree. I can't determine if the people making this "radiation free" lettuce are either very stupid, or very smart and cleverly marketing to stupid people.
    • by sconeu (64226) on Monday May 19, 2014 @02:57PM (#47040291) Homepage Journal

      Reminds me of back in '81, when I was at WUSTL.edu, during the height of the "No Nukes" movement. Some idiot had been quoted in the student newspaper as saying, "any amount of radiation is dangerous".

      So I and a bunch of friends started the SOTS movement. "Stamp Out The Sun... Because ANY Amount of Radiation is Dangerous".

    • Yup, just a marketing ploy to charge more for lettuce.
      • Apparently, the REAL story (once you get by the "radiation free" hype and get to the real story) is that the lettuce has much lower levels of potassium than normal lettuce. This, of course, does not make it "radiation free" by any means, since naturally occuring radioisotopes of both potassium and carbon will be present in it to a measurable degree...but, the much lower levels of potassium make it an alternative for people with kidney issues that make them sensitive to potassium.
    • A small level of radiation is one thing; it's the dihydrogen monoxide I worry about.

      • by oobayly (1056050)

        Bah, you have to drink gallons of that for it to have a detrimental effect. Now Hydrohydroxic acid, that's what you should be worried about.

      • by rasmusbr (2186518)

        A small level of radiation is one thing; it's the dihydrogen monoxide I worry about.

        Don't worry, TFA says that it's totally free of chemicals.

    • by Extremus (1043274)

      So...

      1) Buy lots of radiation-free lettuce
      2) Prove that there was radiation in the lettuce (natural occurring, but who cares?)
      3) Sue the company for misrepresentation
      4) Profit!

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      It reminds me of advertisements like this [chemical-free-living.com]. Every one of their products have chemicals in them.

      Most "(enter substance here) FREE" campaigns are marketing ploys.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      As usual the English translation leaves a lot to be desired. I can't find the original Japanese article I read now (I'm on my phone), but what they actually meant was that the plant was just outside the exclusion zone where there is still a considerable amount of contamination that is slowly being cleaned up. Despite that none of the radioactive isotopes known to have been released by Fukushima Daiichi found their way into the clean room, due to the heavy filtration in place.

      But hay, at least this version l

      • But why do this? Why try to grow plain ol simple veggies in one of mankind's most complex artificial environments? We know we can run clean rooms that filter all manner of things out. We know you can do closed cycle hydroponics. So now you can do it close to a polluted zone (or Trenton, New Jersey, if you are desperate).

        Woot.

        Is the low potassium / nitrate that much of an advantage?

        • by geekoid (135745)

          For the people with kidneys issues this was developed for, yes, yes it does have an advantage.

    • by Zombie (8332)
      TFA doesn't stop at that: "[...] the production is chemical-free [...]".

      That proves that things really are as bad as the mockery in this cartoon [smbc-comics.com] suggests.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They're growing lettuce in hydroponic trays inside a "clean room" of what used to be a semiconductor plant. It's not really surprising that plants grown in so-called "clean room" conditions in water that isn't from an irradiated area would not contain radiation. Hydroponic gardening has been around for hundreds of years. So, what exactly is the "news" here?

    • The real news (once you get past the "radiation free" hype that is basically a lie, is that the lettuce contains MUCH lower than normal levels of potassium, making it an alternative for people with kidney issues (or any other disease really) that makes them sensitive to potassium. A VERY niche market to be sure. But the point is, the lettuce is not "radiation free". It has carbon in it, therefore it has carbon-14 in it.
  • There's a whole cult of "vertical farming" [gizmodo.com]. With LED lighting, it's much more cost-effective. Not only is the power consumption down, but the plants can be racked much more closely without overheating. Phillips has some special-purpose farming LEDs with spectra chosen for growing specific crops.

    So far, most of the enthusiasm for this comes from the organic "farmer's market" crowd, not production-scale farmers.

    • by sl149q (1537343)

      Do they have LEDS with the correct spectra to sell in Washington and Colorado states?

      Could be a huge cash market for smuggling those North to BC and South to Mexico.

  • by The Real Dr John (716876) on Monday May 19, 2014 @03:31PM (#47040539) Homepage
    Radiation-free lettuce... what will they think of next?
    • Dehydrated water. Just add water! I actually can't take credit for that, I got it from the "survival kit" from the first Space Quest game which included a can of dehydrated water with those instructions.. But it's still funny.
  • Perhaps using the sun to grow the plants rather than using lights that contain mercury, powered by nuclear and coal fired generating stations would be a more sensible way to provide a piece of lettuce. Something tells me this organic lettuce will find its way to expensive restaurants in New York so the rich and famous will be able to pay a huge premium to eat it and then turn around and condescendingly tell the 99% how important eating organic, animal rights, and the environment are.
    • Are they using florescent lamps? I thought I read somewhere they were using LEDs. LEDs typically contain no mercury.

      The actual Fujitsu link is almost a year old original press release [fujitsu.com] and has about as much information.

      I'm not sure where I got the LED reference from, though, as looking back I don't see it in either the release or the article. Maybe I skimmed it in a previous comment.

  • I saw coverage of this on Japanese TV last weekend, and the hype is over the fact that since it is grown in a clean room, there is no bacteria, so it can be kept in an airtight bag at room temperature for a long, long time without going brown or losing its crispness.

    The program had three month old lettuce that they tasted and they said it was just as good as the freshly-picked stuff.
  • I assume they mean ... radioactivity-free, not "radiation free"?
  • than standard varieties? WOW! AMAZING! They made a form of lettuce that has even LESS nutritional value than regular lettuce! Which has practically none! Amazing!

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