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Fruit Irradiation

Irradiated fruit: health risks



Fruits have a high content of carbohydrates, a general name for sugars and starch. To name only two examples: bananas are high in starch and grapes are high in sugar.


Irradiated carbohydrates are toxic

It was found that when purified sugars were irradiated, toxic substances were formed which damaged chromosomes. Chromosomes are tiny strands inside the nucleus of a biological cell and contain the DNA molecule which carries the genetic code. So, damage to chromosomes means damage to the genetic code and this could lead to mutations.


? Onion and barley root tips brought into contact with irradiated glucose for 2 hours showed chromosome breakages (1).


? Germinating seeds of barley and onions placed in irradiated orange and apple juice for 4 hours showed chromosome breakages (2). Spontaneous chromosome abnormalities in barley are very rare.


? Bacteria placed in synthetic nutrient media containing irradiated sugars did not survive or showed mutations (3, 4).


? Human cells grown on a nutrient growth medium containing irradiated sugar solutions showed widespread cell toxicity (5, 6).


? Human lymph cells brought in contact with irradiated sucrose solutions showed extreme toxicity (7).


Around 1970 two review articles on the toxicity of irradiated carbohydrates (8, 9) expressed concern about the small number of feeding trials with mammals.


Monkey study

One such feeding study, monkeys fed irradiated peaches, exposed symptoms of vitamin C deficiency after about 15 months. This disappeared when additional vitamin C as ascorbic acid was given. The food consisted of 35% irradiated peaches and 65% commercial monkey chow  (10). But more studies have been done since the experimental protocol was changed.


Change of experimental protocol 

A member of the US Atomic Energy Commission spells this out. E.E. Fowler told a conference on fruit disinfestation by irradiation:


“ For the papaya feeding studies, we were successful in breaking a longstanding arbitrary rule by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) that irradiated foods must be fed to animals at a level of 35% of the diet on a dry-weight basis. As all of you recognise, this feeding level presents an unusual insult to the animals. With respect to papayas, the FDA agreed to a level of 15% wet-weight of the total diet fed as a fresh puree.

                The 15% level was arrived at after the US Atomic Energy Commission carried out a 30-day preliminary study to determine the maximum tolerable level for this product in the total diet for the three species of animals to be used, rats, mice and dogs.” (11).



Have you ever tried to feed your dog pawpaw? Dogs are flesh eaters and would not be able to get much nutrition out of it. Why was the feeding trial only 30 days ? This is very short. Also, what is 15% wet-weight? How much water and how much irradiated fruit? And why was this “research” not done by the FDA, but by an Atom­ic Energy Commission? Why at all did the FDA go along with this bizarre nonsense?


The role of the FDA

An article in NATURE of 1971 throws some light on the FDA.


FDA called unhealthy for science and scientists

The new report concerned with the scientific activities of the agency, is an almost comprehensive catalogue of possible deficiencies in science management that ranges from its subordination of scientific facts to political and economic considerations, to bad morale among scientists, low productivity, antiquated equipment, skimpy record keeping and even laboratories that are actual unsafe.”(12)


It seems that this report made little impact. In 1975 the same Journal reported:


‘Busting the FDA

Their central allegation is that the FDA is so heavily dominated by industry pressure that its decisions are frequently biased in the industry’s favour. As evidence they cite the “revolving door syndrome” in which top FDA personnel are often drawn from the drug industry and usual return to it.’(13)


It appears the FDA is a corrupted organisation manipulated by vested interests, which in this case is the nuclear lobby.


Fake research

It is obvious that since the experimental protocol was changed we are dealing with fake research. The difference between genuine re­search and fake research is that genuine re­search tries to find out what is really happening, while fake research tries to hide what is really happening.


The exaggerations in the old protocol were there to magnify adverse effects in a similar way as drugs are tested.


The differences between a diet containing up to 35% irradiated food on a dry weight basis and a diet with 15% irradiated food on a wet weight basis are enormous. The latter diet will virtually guarantee that no adverse effects will show up.


Some history

In the 1950's and 1960's genuine research found that irradiation as a food technology was wanting.

Since that time no further research grants went to food irradiation and genuine research ceased.


However, the nuclear lobby continued to issue research grants to food technologists to get a foot in the door. Also food irradiation projects were carried out. But there was always a proviso: the nuclear lobby laid down the experimental protocol. So, researchers cannot design their own experiments. And whether or not they agree with the protocol, they are under contract and have to follow it. In other words fake research is contracted out.


To a number of researchers this seems easy money as it is well paid. However, what they often do not realise is that these quasi scientific reports are used for promotional purposes. And, here is the rub, these nonsense reports carry their name as scientist.



The result is that anyone who wants to do a search on food irradiation, has nowadays to cut his/her way through a jungle of fake research and misinformation before arriving at the genuine experiments. Then the real picture emerges: a technology that is unable to do what it claims it can do and produces low level toxic food. Over time this toxicity builds up inside your body and results in a steady erosion of your health.



1. Moutschen, J et al. 1965. Cytological effects of irradiated glucose. Radiation Botany 5: 23-28.

2. Chopra, V.L. et al. 1963. Cytological effects etc.  Radiation Botany 3: 1-6.

3. Chopra, V.L. et al. 1969. Lethal and mutagenic effects etc. Mutation Research 8: 25-33.

4. Aiyar, A.S. et al. 1977. Studies on mutagenicity etc.  Mutation Research 48: 17-28.

5. Berry, R.J. et al. 1965. Cytotoxic agent in gamma-irradiated carbohyd. solutions. Int. J. Rad. Biol. 9(6): 559-572

6. Kesevan, P.C.  et al. 1966. Cytotoxic etc. human leukocytes. Current Science 35: 403-404.

7. Shaw, M.W. et al. 1966. Effects irradiated sucrose on human lymphocytes. Nature 211: 1254-1256.

8. Schubert, J. 1969. Mutagenicity and cytotoxicity of irrad. foods etc. Bulletin World Health Org. 41:873-904

9. Kesevan, P.C. et al. 1971. Cytotoxic and mutagenic effects etc. Radiation Botany 11: 253-281 10. Blood et al. 1966. Feeding of irradiated peaches etc. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 8: 247-249  

11. Fowler, E.E. 1971. PL 422/1 - p.4 in: Disinfestation of fruit by irradiation. Proceedings of a panel on the use of irradiation to solve quarantine problems in the international fruit trade , organized by the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Atomic Energy in Food and Agriculture and held in Honolulu, Hawaii, US of America, 7-11 Dec. 1970. Vienna, IAEA 1971.

12. Nature 231, June 4 1977, p. 277

13. Nature 258, November 20 1975, p.187

                                                                                                                                                                                H. Julius


Copyright © 1999 Friends of the Earth                        Feel free to copy



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