GMA News Online

PHL bans Japanese agri products on radiation fears

May 4, 2011 4:42pm
Plant products and planting materials including fruits and vegetables from six prefectures affected by the nuclear radiation in Japan have been banned from entering the Philippines for now, the Department of Agriculture said Wednesday.

The temporary ban is contained in an April 18 memorandum issued by the department, which also ordered Philippines authorities to monitor and test for radiation levels such agriculture products from other areas in Japan.

The department said that the well-being of the consuming public is its priority in protecting the country from harm coming from radiation-contaminated products.

"Based on the assessment of the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), under the Department of Agriculture (DA), there may be risk of increased levels of radiation-contamination of plants, planting materials and plant products in Japan," the memo read.

The bureau has suspended the quarantine clearance agriculture products from the prefectures — loosely provinces — of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Iwata, and Miyagi, the department said.

The Agriculture Department issued the ban based on a report of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo that the March 11 earthquake in Japan has resulted in nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant — about 240 kms northeast of the Japanese capital — which may have contaminated food, water, and the atmosphere in that area.

In doing so, the Agriculture Department invoked the Philippines’ rights under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary — plant health — measures.

"While it is acknowledged that the government of Japan has been undertaking rigorous and intensive monitoring of radionuclide levels of food, water and the atmosphere, certificates of food safety from radiation, at this time, cannot be issued because all resources are devoted to testing of local food products and additional machinery would be needed to comply with the request for the export certificate," according to the April 18 memo.

However, agriculture products from other parts of disaster-stricken Japan may be allowed to enter the Philippines if covered by “a certificate of radiation analysis issued by a competent authority or laboratory at or near the final port of loading in Japan."

China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, United States, Canada, Russia, , Brazil, and Mexico, as well as the European Union have imposed partial or total limits of food products from Japan

The Philippines imports a "minimal quantity" of apples from Japan but not fresh vegetables, according to the Plant Bureau.

Similar restrictions on dairy products, including chocolates from Japan, were earlier imposed by the Philippines. — VS, GMA News
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