Fukushima and the Growing Cost of Cancer

The Fukushima disaster is largely unreported but the long-term effects could be far more devastating than most people realise, or will ever be told. After all, President Obama recently approved raising permissible radiation levels in drinking water, dealing with the problem by effectively denying there is one. “This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch.

In Japan, a country already familiar with the highly destructive effects of radiation levels following on from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a court has recently rejected demands to evacuate children in the vicinity of Fukushima – the authorities were happy to acknowledge that radiation levels were well above what is considered “safe” but accepted no responsibility for the safety of the exposed children.

No doubt, as with Chernobyl, thousands of children will get cancer, and many babies will be born with birth defects – something common in Fallujah, Iraq, where depleted uranium munitions were used against the civilian population (just as the Vietnamese are still giving birth to deformed children as a consequence of Agent Orange) – but it may be decades before the true impact is fully realised.

Still, as is always the case with “disaster capitalism” someone stands to make a tidy profit. In this case, one such group is big pharma, their cancer drugs costing up to $138,000 a year; costs which cancer doctors are understandably describing as “astronomical“. Protesting the lack of ethics in an age where profit comes before people might seem futile when discussing an industry which frequently puts out poorly tested drugs and lies about their efficacy. As for the notion that “you can’t put a price on human life” – big pharma certainly can: in the US alone in 2011 that price was $711 billion. A sum of money some would kill for.

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