Fukushima caused mutant butterflies: Scientists
TOKYO (AFP) - Genetic mutations have been found in three generations of butterflies from near Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, scientists said on Tuesday, raising fears radiation could affect other species.
Around 12 per cent of pale grass blue butterflies that were exposed to nuclear fallout as larvae immediately after the tsunami-sparked disaster had abnormalities, including smaller wings and damaged eyes, researchers said.
The insects were bred in a laboratory outside the fallout zone and 18 per cent of their offspring displayed similar problems, said Professor Joji Otaki, associate professor at Ryukyu University in Okinawa, south-western Japan.
The figure rose to 34 per cent in the third generation of butterflies, he said, even though one parent from each coupling was from an unaffected population. The researchers also collected another 240 butterflies in Fukushima in September last year, six months after the disaster. Abnormalities were recorded in 52 per cent, which was "a dominantly high ratio", Prof Otaki told AFP.