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Articles on Irradiation from the Journal Food & Water
Food & Water Journal, Spring 1999, "Irradiation Updates" pp 28-29
Nuking Paradise: Hawaii Moves Toward Irradiation
E-beam Irradiators: Cancer is Cancer

"Top Meat Corporations Plan to Irradiate"
The USDA's recent decision to allow meat irradiation has led to
announcements by three leading meat corporations that they intend to
implement the technology once the final regulations are in place later this
year. The three, IBP, Inc., Excel (a division of Cargill), and Colorado
Boxed Beef, account for nearly 60% of the red meat industry. All three
have also been involved in contaminated food scandals, giving credence to
the contention that irradiation will be used to mask filthy food. Last
fall, Colorado Boxed Beef was ordered by the USDA to recall 359,000 pounds
of its ground beef, while IBP and Excel have been embroiled in battles with
federal meat inspectors over filth in their facilities. IBP and Excel, the
number one and two meat corporations in the U.S., announced that they will
be working with the San Diego-based Titan Corp. to test market meat treated
by an electron beam irradiator (see sidebar). The irradiated meat will
most likely end up in fast food hamburgers.
Colorado Boxed Beef, which is based in Auburndale, Florida, has
signed a contract with the infamous Food Technology Services (formerly
Vindicator), an irradiation corporation that operates a cobalt-60
irradiator in Mulberry, Florida. In addition to wholesale distribution,
Colorado Boxed Beef markets some of its beef products directly to consumers
under its "Colorado Gold" label.
In response to these announcements Food & Water is requesting that
citizens call these meat corporations and express your opposition to food
irradiation and their plans to implement it (see Action Box below).

Action Box
Contact the following corporations to protest their recently announced
plans to test market irradiated meat. Tell them you are aware of the
environmental and human health dangers of irradiation, particularly the
creation of carcinogens, and you will boycott all irradiated foods.

Excel (a division of Cargill)
Bill Buckner
151 North Main, Wichita, KS 67202
tel: 316-291-2500; fax: 316-291-2590

Colorado Boxed Beef
P.O. Box 899, Winter Haven, FL 33882
tel: 800-955-0636; fax: 941-551-4413

IBP
Robert Peterson, CEO
P.O. Box 515, Dakota City, NE 68731
tel:402-241-4000; fax: 402-241-2946



"Nuking Paradise: Hawaii Moves Toward Irradiation"
The throbbing nuisance of Hawaii's on-again-off-again flirtation
with food irradiation is, unfortunately, on again. Last November voters on
Hawaii's big island (Hawaii County) voted by a whisker's margin (25,493 to
25,020) to reject a referendum that called for a ban on nuclear food
irradiation facilities.
But the .01% margin of victory didn't deter food irradiation
proponents from comparing the outcome to Gettysburg as they reveled in
their dreams of exposing Hawaii's exotic fruits to radiation. For
irradiation opponents, however, the controversial loss means that battles
to stop the irradiation of Hawaii's fruits and vegetables must now be waged
in the marketplace.
The referendum was the result of a massive grassroots petition
initiative led by the Hilo-based Parents Against Irradiation and
Irradiation Free Food Hawaii. The groups garnered more than 10,000
signatures, thus forcing County officials to put the irradiation question
on the ballot.
Last fall, after it was announced that the referendum would be on
the November ballot, irradiation proponents quickly formed a political
action committee called the Friends of Hawaii Agriculture (FOHA) that
didn't have any trouble soaking up money from the nation's largest
corporate Food lobbyists, including the Grocery Manufacturers of America,
the Food Marketing Institute, and the Produce Marketing Association. FOHA
eventually collected nearly $80,000 to litter the island with irradiation
nonsense, compared to the $16,000 collected by irradiation opponents.
While the corporate food world's successful attempts to buy the
election are completely legal in our perverted electoral system, FOHA's
largest contribution remains mired in legal controversy.
According to thecampaign spending reports, Hawaii County Mayor Stephen
Yamashiro,
a fanatical proponent of food irradiation, funneled $17,000 from his
reelection fund to
FOHA to assist in its efforts to kill the citizen-initiated referendum, a
money transfer that appears to violate strict State guidelines on the use
of reelection cash. Opponents of food irradiation filed a complaint with
the State's Campaign Spending Commission and, in December, the five-member
panel voted unanimously that "there was probable cause to believe that a
violation occurred." The Mayor's legal advisors responded by requesting a
formal hearing, which, at press time, had not taken place.
All told, the scandal surrounding the shady $17,000 transfer
amounts to little more than salve on the wounds of the anti-irradiation
activists since it is unlikely that anything more than a fine would be
levied against Yamashiro if he's found to be guilty.
With the referendum hurdle safely dispatched by irradiation
proponents, plans to build a food irradiation facility are now in high
gear. Isomedix, the New Jersey-based irradiation corporation with its own
list of regulatory and safety failures, wants to build a cobalt-60 facility
but has said it won't do it unless Hawaii farmers pony up $600,000 towards
construction costs. But another irradiation company, Titan Corporation of
San Diego, appears to be closer to consummating a deal to build the state's
first irradiation facility. Titan Corporation, a long-time military
contractor, specializes in electron beam (e-beam, or x-ray) irradiators
that operate on electricity instead of radioactive isotopes like cesium-137
or cobalt-60 (see E-Beam Irradiators below).
Regardless of whether Hawaii embraces Isomedix or Titan, the battle
over Hawaii's irradiated tropical fruits appears to be headed for the
marketplace. And, given the Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) new
attempts to eviscerate the already inadequate irradiation labeling
requirements, it's going to get even more difficult to identify and avoid
irradiated foods. Thus, if an irradiation facility is built in Hawaii,
Food & Water will be recommending that people avoid all foods from the
state.

"E-beam Irradiators: Cancer is Cancer"
Large food corporations currently exhibiting an interest in food
irradiation are banking on the "new and improved" electron beam (e-beam)
irradiators that do not involve the use of radioactive isotopes.
While it's true that these irradiators will not be fueled by
radioactive isotopes like cesium-137 and cobalt-60, e-beam irradiation is
far from safe. The food safety problems, for example, are the same,
including loss of vitamins and nutrients and the introduction of free
radicals, radiolytic products, and carcinogens.
But the achilles heel of e-beam irradiations is its much documented
potential for inducing radioactivity in the foods being treated. X-rays
generated by e-beams are extremely powerful and less penetrating than
traditional gamma sources, a combination of factors that can lead to the
induction of radioactivity, particularly with meat. The pro-irradiation
Council for Agriculture Science and Technology (CAST) not only acknowledges
this thorny e-beam radioactivity issue but even attempts to lull the public
to sleep with this disturbing declaration in its food irradiation report:
"The increased...risk of cancer from the induced radioactivity caused by
treating meat with accelerated electrons thus is negligible." (There, now
don't we all feel better?)
E-beam irradiators used in cancer therapy have also been involved
in deadly accidents. In 1986, for example, a Tyler, Texas, hospital e-beam
unit went awry and killed two cancer patients.
It's these kinds of thorny problems and public relations nightmares
unique to e-beam irradiation that could send the food corporations back to
radioactive isotopes, or, hopefully, toward cleaning up their acts and
preventing the filth in the first place.

Food & Water Journal is published by the non-profit Food & Water, Inc.
Annual memberships are $25 for individuals and include the quarterly
journal.

Food & Water, Inc
389 Vermont Route 05873, Walden, VT 05873
tel: 802-563-3300
fax: 802-563-3310

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