It's good to know where the present government stands on the question of your right to know whether the milk your kids are drinking is toxic. There position is that you have no such right.
"There will be no testing of milk," Alice Danjou, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said Friday [April 1, 2011].
Testing of milk for radioactive Iodine-131, that is: a highly toxic nuclide from melting-down nuclear reactors at Fukushima, Japan, which is now falling with the gentle rain on a cow pasture near you.
The Government's refusal to test milk comes despite the wishes of the BC Dairy Farmers Association :
The news came as a disappointment to Robin Smith, executive director of the BC Milk Producers Association, which earlier this week called on the agency to test the milk in an effort to prove to the public the levels are low enough to consume. ...
“If there is radioactive iodine in the milk we want to know about it,” said Smith.
“This is a $400-million-a-year industry -the biggest farm industry in British Columbia -and milk goes to every household, so we’re really concerned about that. We don’t want people thinking there is something wrong with it when there isn’t.”
There would also be demands for hasty action, always hazardous to the governing party, since it's easy enough to do the wrong thing when under the gun.
For example, should milk be tested from every farm? The contamination comes from airborne particles washed to the ground by the rain. So contamination will vary with the amount of local precipitation.
Contamination will also depend on how cattle are being fed. Those kept indoors and fed on old newsprint and chicken manure will be fine! whereas organic milk producers with animals fed solely on grass may be producing highly contaminated milk.
No forget it. Let them drink Iodine-131. if the rate of child thyroid cancer spikes a few years from now, the election at issue will be long past.
Interestingly, the media are saying nothing at present about protective measures, i.e., the use of potassium iodide, although only a few days ago the US Surgeon General advocated stocking up on potassium iodide tablets in order to "be prepared."
But perhaps we shouldn't panic.
According to US measurements made a week or more ago, amounts of iodine-131 in milk from California and Washington states are less than 1 Bq per liter, which is not a lot compared with the staggering count of 5300 bq per liter in milk sampled in Japan on March 21, and well below the US Food and Drug Administration's limit in food of 170 Bq per kilogram (One Becquerel (Bq) equals 27 picoCuries (pCi), and 1 Bq equals one nuclear disintegratioin per second).
But, then the FDA limit in food, is 1500 times higher than the EPA's maximum contaminant level of only 3 pCi per liter, or 0.11 Bq. You'd think different agencies of the same government would be able to come to a closer agreement. But there you are, maybe it is a good idea, after all, to take some potassium iodide with your milk.