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Japan: It's in the Milk

A group of scientists announced yesterday that Japanese women's breast milk has been found to contain polychlorinated/brominated coplanar biphenyls, or Co-PXBs, a toxin similar to the pollutant PCB. Possible sources of the toxins include a contaminated fish supply, fumes from garbage incinerators, and factory wastewater.

Blogger Mumon outlines and comments on the findings:

日本人の母乳に臭化系化合物が蓄積していることが大学の研究グループの分析で判明したことを5日に発表したそうです。臭化系化合物というのはPCBに構造や毒性が似た物だそうです。

According to analysis performed by a university research group and made public on Sept. 5th, a bromine compound has apparently been accumulating in the breast milk of Japanese women. The structure and toxicity of this bromine compound is said to be similar to that of PCB.

原因として考えられるのは、世界中の魚に凝縮され蓄積された物が、体内に取り入れられることが主なる原因らしい。そういえば、水揚高日本一を誇る焼津港でも世界中の漁船が入港するようになり、いろんな海から魚が集まっています。動物性蛋白より健康にいいといわれていた魚食文化にもなんとなく寂しい影が忍び寄ってきるていますね。

The main cause [of the contamination] is thought to be the concentration and accumulation of [toxins] in the world's fish, which enter the body when the fish are ingested. Come to think of it, fishing boats from around the world are docking at Yaizu Port, which prides itself on having the largest fish production in Japan, and a lot of fish from different seas are being gathered together there. Seems like a desolate shadow is creeping over the the dietary culture of fish, which had [previously] been seen as better for your health than animal protein.

中国各地ではがん患者が急増してきているそうです。2006年のがん発生率は前年比19%増で農村部は23%増だそうです。科学的な証明はまだされていないそうですが、「汚染物質を垂れ流している企業とがん死亡者が多い地区の分布が一致した」そうです。

I hear that in many regions in China, the number of cancer patients has been increasing. The incidence rates of cancer in 2006 were apparently 19% higher than the year before, and 23% higher in the case of rural areas. Although there is no scientific demonstration yet, it appears that “there is a correlation between contaminants discharged by corporations and the distribution of zones in which large numbers of people have died of cancer”.

たとえ1%増であっても中国の場合は日本の10倍の人間に被害を及ぼすことになることを考えると、約20%増というのは桁違いの数になるのですね。そしてその汚染物質は当然のごとく海に流れ込み・・・・・・。

Even if the rate increases by just 1%, in the case of China this means that a group of human beings, ten times larger than it would be in Japan, become victims. Think about this, and then about the fact that a rise of about 20% is a whole order of magnitude greater. And then [think]: these contaminants are just flushed into the sea, as if it were something natural……..

一番の問題は、日本の場合は国民によるチェック機能がある程度働いてはいるが、中国では民主的チェックは、すなわち国家に対する反逆と取られがちになることですね。一党独裁社会では政治屋の汚職や不正経理などはつき物です。日本もプチ一党独裁が長く続き、今になって国民のチェックが入りだしましたね。

The greatest problem is that, in the case of Japan, the checking function of Japanese citizens is operating to a certain degree, but in China, the democratic checking [function] is taken to be the act of rebelling against the national government. Things like political corruption or accounting irregularities are part-and-parcel of a society with a one-party dictatorship. In Japan as well, a one-party dictatorship had continued for a long time, until the Japanese people recently exercised their checking [function].

米ソ中、それに日本も含め、世界の大国といわれる国が、なんとなく甘えの構造に戻りつつあるようで、この地球を壊しだしているみたい。日本の母乳さえ危険に陥れるとは何たることでしょうね。

America, Russia, and China — with Japan also included — it seems that the world's so-called superpowers, in returning to an anatomy of dependence, are destroying this planet. That breast milk alone has put Japan in jeopardy, this is really shocking.

In a post entitled “MADE IN MOM — Is this dangerous too?” (MADE IN お母さん も危ない?), blogger Wadai no Pon Pon expresses shock at the discovery:

安全だと思っていたものが、実はそうじゃ無かったって時のショックは、結構大きいほうなんですが、
これもスゲーショックでした。

When you think that something is safe, and then find out that in fact it is not, that kind of shock is pretty big,
but this was really shocking.

結論から言いますと、日本人の母乳がPCBに極めて近い化学物質に汚染されている事がわかったらしいのですよ

According to the conclusions [of the report], it was apparently discovered that breast milk of Japanese women is contaminated with a chemical compound extremely similar to PCB.

母乳っていえば、生まれたばかりの赤ちゃんが命の糧として食べるものでしょう
それも工場で作られるわけじゃなくて、お母さんがまさにその体から作り出した愛情たっぷりの栄養ドリンクだと思っていたのにさ

Think about it, breast milk is the bread of life for newborn babies, right?
It's not something that is made in factories, it is a nourishing drink produced with love and affection directly from the body of the mother — at least that's how I used to think of it.

Blogger Risamine, meanwhile, weighs in with a perspective from the theory of psychologist Abraham Maslow:

魚がダメならいよいよ大豆などからタンパク質をとるしかないですね・・・・・

いくら先進国が集まって、環境問題を論じても、中国やその他の発展途上国は、生きるのかが精一杯(今の日本の大多数もそうですが・・・)なので、環境なんてお構いなしですね。

In the case that fish become inedible, we may be left with no choice but to get our protein from soy beans…

However much developed countries may gather and discuss environmental problems, in China and other developing countries, they are doing everything they can just to get by (the great majority of people in Japan are today also in this situation, but…), and so the environment is not something that is cared about much.

マズローの段階説どおり、やはり基本的欲求が満たされて、初めて人間の高次の機能が発揮されるのは間違いないところだと思います。

環境問題はグローバルな問題なので、根本的解決は資本主義の構造を変えていくことが必要になるでしょう。

ゴアをはじめ、利権に絡んで環境問題を利用する輩が多いですが、もっと大きな視点で物を言う人達が一人でも多くなって欲しいものです。

I think [Abraham] Maslow made no mistake when he expressed, in his hierarchy of human needs, that higher-level functionality comes out only when basic wants are fulfilled.

Environmental problems are global problems, so it seems to me that a fundamental solution requires that the capitalist system be changed.

Starting with Gore, there is a large group of people who make use of environmental problems for their own interests. What I really want is that the group of people who are speaking about these things from a broader perspective grows larger, even by just one person.

For more perspectives on the story, see posts from bloggers Arekao, Aratetsu, and H. Matsui.

1 comment

  • Sashimi is one of the best inventions on the planet.

    This is sad, but nothing new. Our oceans are dying, and should be no surprise that the pollution that’s killing animals around the planet (Yangtze River Dolphin anyone?) will soon start killing us.

    Correction, it is already. The WB estimates 750,000 Chinese a year die early deaths because of pollution. Assuming that figure is accurate, imagine if everyday in China, 2000+ people died of HIV/AIDS, or gunshot wounds, or mine explosions, or something else red and gory. There would be a revolution.

    Pollution kills silently, slowly. Too bad we can’t be bothered to give a damn.

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