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David Emery

'Fukushima Mutant Vegetables' Debunked

By July 23, 2013

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Fukushima Mutant Vegetables

The Internet was abuzz last week over a set of lurid images purporting to show the "freakish" effects of nuclear radiation on plant life in and around Fukushima, Japan.

ABC News admitted it was "unclear exactly where the images came from," but published them anyway. Yahoo News Singapore said it "hasn't been proved that the nuclear disaster is to blame," but published them anyway. So did the Daily Mail. After running a 22-image "Freaky Veggies from Fukushima" slideshow, msnNOW apologized for misinforming the public.

Turns out they, and we, got punked.

The majority of the photos weren't taken anywhere near Fukushima. Most are a year or more old (one actually dates back to 2004, seven years before the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown took place), and all of the deformities documented in the photos are naturally occurring and much more common than people might think.

Here are some of the more interesting "mutations" attributed to Fukushima radiation:


The photo at right first appeared on the TV Asahi website on July 13, 2011 in a feature devoted to odd and humorous pictures submitted by viewers. A Japanese source claims the tomato was harvested in Saitama, which, if true, means it was grown more than 150 miles from Fukushima. Far from being an "anomaly," it appears to be an example of a not-all-that-uncommon heirloom varietal known as a "reisetomate."

Tomato with green hair

"Mutation" number two, a tomato with green sprouts rising from the top, was first documented in a July 7, 2012 story in Japan's Asahi Shimbun, which states that the fruit in question was grown in Nara Prefecture, 500 miles from Fukushima. There was no mention of nuclear radiation, or even a suspicion of it. Overripe tomatoes sometimes sprout seedlings, that's just a fact. Here's another example. And another.

Gargantuan cabbage

This nine-pound cabbage was harvested in Oita Prefecture, according to the June 16, 2012 edition of the Oita Godo Shimbun. The farmer, a Mr. Tsutsumi, said he couldn't explain why his cabbage was so much larger than his friend's, though the fact that he was holding it closer to the camera lens surely had something to do with it. Nuclear contamination would be the least likely explanation, given that Oita and Fukushima are a good 750 miles apart. By the way, have you ever seen a 17-pound head of cabbage? How about a 25-pounder?

Five-toed radish

This photo of a radish with digits came from a Dec. 13, 2004 posting on a Korean website. The EXIF data embedded in the image confirms the photo is nine years old. Needless to say, the deformity in question could not have been caused by radiation leakage from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, which occurred in March 2011. View more radishes with toes.

Split-personality mandarin orange

According to a Dec. 18, 2011 story in the Kumanichi Weekly, the half-green mandarin orange pictured at right was harvested in Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture, a group of islands roughly a thousand miles from Fukushima. Want to see more examples of "chimeric" oranges? Look here. And here.

Abnormal cucumber

Featured on what must have been a very slow news day in the July 2, 2012 edition of the Daily Tohoku, this otherwise ordinary-looking cucumber with a leaf sprouting from its midriff was grown in a home garden in Towada, Aomori Prefecture, 300 miles north of Fukushima. You can view more examples of the same sort of anomaly, attributed in the news story to climate and soil conditions, here, here, and here.

Eggplant quintuplets

At last, a specimen actually grown in Fukushima Prefecture! According to Fukushima Minpo, the five-fingered eggplant pictured at right was harvested near the city of Date, about 60 miles northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility, in August 2012. Was the anomaly caused by radioactive contamination? Unlikely. It's a common mutation found all over the world.

Experimental data on biological effects of nuclear contamination:
Effects of Ionizing Radiation on Terrestrial Plants and Animals: A Workshop Report (1995)
Gamma Irradiation Effects on Seed Germination and Growth, etc. (2008)


July 25, 2013 at 11:24 am
(1) Eekologist says:

I haven’t seen the original news items, but this piece brought a smile to my face. My grandmother was a prodigious gardener. She took particular delight in saving oddly-shaped vegetables (usually tomatoes and potatoes) and sometimes enhancing them with little faces drawn with a marker.

August 15, 2013 at 12:28 pm
(2) Gayla Groom says:

Don’t understand why you think veggies have to be close to Fukushima in order to be affected by it?

August 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm
(3) Some Guy says:

@Gayla Groom how exactly should we determine if a veggie was affected by Fukushima or not then? By its perceived oddity? So basically any weird tomato grown in Japan must be the result of Fukushima, even if tomatoes have been known to be weird sometimes.

August 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm
(4) Krista says:

Gayla – the lighter weight radioactive material distributed by the wind has a very short half life of about a week. The heavier radioactive fallout would have stayed very close to the plant, not traveled hundreds of miles away.

August 20, 2013 at 5:24 pm
(5) Leviathan says:

Don’t you know that radiation travels backwards in time too?

August 20, 2013 at 10:21 pm
(6) Nog says:

@Leviathan Uh, you mean, like, hypothetical tachyon radiation from Star Trek? The kind that can’t be artificially created with any existing technology, has never been observed in nature, and has to move faster than the speed of light in order to travel backwards in time?

September 5, 2013 at 2:41 pm
(7) yunzer says:

No, Gayla was saying that a wierd deformed veggie anywhere in the world could be caused by Fukushima – just like there is a popular myth that there was a spike in birth defects and cancer in the western US within weeks of the accident.

That is how far out there the anti-nuclear paranoia is getting.

September 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm
(8) Mark Borg says:

I’m more scared of the perferctly round and all similar tomatoes you find in the supermarkets nowadays..

September 25, 2013 at 7:48 am
(9) Tonya says:

I agree with Mark, I to am more afraid of the fruits and vegetables in my supermarket, with the Government always trying to protect Monsanto to not have to label their poisons to the general public. I try to by local if at all possible from farmers that are not poisoning their fields with Round-Up. The world has so much cancer and disease, not because of our population but because of the poisoned foods we are eating. Round-up ready seeds, double dosed with Round-up=created by Agent Orange, is poison. There is no one that could tell me differently, you cant drink round up and live, but it is perfectly fine for you to eat is being sprayed on your fruits and vegs. I think its crap.

October 17, 2013 at 6:05 am
(10) W says:

When Chernobyl happened (or rather, when it was on the news) there were lots of reports in Finland of people who felt ‘hot stuff’ landing on their heads at the exact same time as the news report came from radio or TV.

People associate events to the time they hear about them, not to the actual timelines. That’s why things like ‘mutated births’ stories or other weird reported phenomenon happens immediately when something like this becomes a top news story.

December 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm
(11) Ron says:

Are you saying that none of this is GMO, I didn’t think so..

I did take a photo of a two headed turtle many years ago.

December 11, 2013 at 10:57 pm
(12) Look it up says:

Fukushima to chernobyl is mathematically over 9million times potenial damage to the ENTIRE planet ,water, air, weather, ground, crops, ppl. Chernobyl only melted down 30%. Look it up. Look up how much and what they really spilled. Look up chernobyl. Radiation in the rain is sometimes over 20x the hazmat scene limit here in washington. Do u really think theyd tell billions and billions of ppl that the worst event in the history of the earth has just happened. Label my knowledge paranoia, sure think what u want but ppl need to know the truth. Learn about radiology and the real facts about nuclear spills. You wont find it in the news. Knowledge and love brothers and sisters. Help eachother out

February 5, 2014 at 11:01 am
(13) valerie brooks says:

(12) Look it up says:……20x the hazmat scene limit her in washington….so where’s that data proof? people are quoting wikipedia….it’s now known they are altering any data they can in some places to keep lies going on…peer reviewed data is the most trusted. quoting numbers without the news links or sources is wasting time, most people can’t figure out how to believe something they can’t reference and wikipedia has been reliable but lately very suspicious.

February 15, 2014 at 7:24 pm
(14) Cleo says:

You need to look mat how for the radiation has spread. 750km is nothing. Of course these vegetables weren’t grown in Fukushima. NOTHING WILL EVER grow in Fukushima!

February 24, 2014 at 9:05 am
(15) Chewbird says:

Quote peer review articles? It depends who is funding the research.
I am Chewbird. I am not a nuke expert, but I play one on the internet. Nobody died , ever , from Nuclear accidents or even any of the bombs dropped on Japan. It was a hoax, like everything else, the moon landings, even the stock market crash. I may look like I weigh 274 pounds, but I do not blame my addiction to fast food on myself. It was my moms fault.

April 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm
(16) owen says:

Is that Cleo the psychic?

Seems about as legit.

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