OSLO — Norwegian researchers fear that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster has had disastrous effects on Nordic food sources, especially reindeer, it was reported Thursday.
Latest measurements in Norway show increasing radiation levels in sheep, reindeer and fish, while in neighboring Sweden, berries popular all over Scandinavia have joined the list of foodstuffs declared unfit for human consumption in the wake of the nuclear power plant accident in the Soviet Union.
Tor Gunneroed, head of research at Norway's Directorate for Nature Management, told reporters that the measurements indicate that radioactivity in lichen--the main source of nutrition for reindeer--may increase by four to five times above the current high levels. Reindeer meat forms a regular part of the Nordic diet.
Gunneroed said researchers now fear mass deaths of reindeer in two or three years from the accumulation of radiation.
The contamination of berries, meat and fresh-water fish is likely to play havoc with the eating habits of Norwegians and Swedes. In both countries, berries grow wild in huge amounts and are a favorite dish.
Researchers say cattle have so far escaped large doses of contamination because they do not eat lichen or moss. Lichen, unlike root plants, take nourishment from the air and absorbed much of the extra radiation after the Soviet disaster.