Here is an abridged version of this article, which was on BBC yesterday…
Exposure to radioactive material released into the environment has caused mutations in butterflies found in Japan, a study suggests.
Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among butterflies collected following the 2011 Fukushima accident.
The link between the mutations and the radioactive material was shown by laboratory experiments, they report.
The work has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.
In brief, they took butterflies from 10 different areas of Japan…
By comparing mutations found on the butterflies collected from the different sites, the team found that areas with greater amounts of radiation in the environment were home to butterflies with much smaller wings and irregularly developed eyes.
Prof Otaki’s team then bred these butterflies within labs 1,750km (1,090 miles) away from the accident, where artificial radiation could hardly be detected.
It was by breeding these butterflies that they began noticing a suite of abnormalities that hadn’t been seen in the previous generation – that collected from Fukushima – such as malformed antennae, which the insects use to explore their environment and seek out mates.
Six months later, they again collected adults from the 10 sites and found that butterflies from the Fukushima area showed a mutation rate more than double that of those found sooner after the accident.
The team concluded that this higher rate of mutation came from eating contaminated food, but also from mutations of the parents’ genetic material that was passed on to the next generation, even though these mutations were not evident in the previous generations’ adult butterflies.
Aren’t you happy that, even though they seemed to have stopped talking about it, we are still going to get those new nuclear power plants?
Kraftwerk also had something good to say about it all.