Brazilian representatives of the National Atomic Energy Commission, the Food and Drug Administration (Anvisa) and the ministries of Agriculture and Health have set up a board that will examine food products imported from Japan to ensure they are not contaminated by radiation.
Anvisa agents will collect samples in ports and airports and send them to nuclear commission labs located in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. A spokesperson for Anvisa says the analysis should be rapid and that the type of products from Japan are limited to ingredients for bakery goods.
Another step being taken to protect Brazilians from radiation is a series of restrictions on goods from the area near the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Those goods will have to be certified by the Japanese government as to quality.
“The chances of contaminated food products reaching Brazil is slight,” says Denise Resende, of Anvisa. “We don’t buy much in the line of food products from Japan and Japanese authorities have prohibited the export of items from the area around the power plant where it is believed radiation is escaping.”
However, contrary to Anvisa, the union of federal farm product inspectors (Sindicato Nacional dos Fiscais Federais Agropecuários) released a note on Monday, March 28, complaining about a lack of clear rules and norms for dealing with products from Japan. The union says they expect ships to arrive around April 11 and their members do not have equipment to measure radiation.
The union also says that products from Japan are arriving regularly in Brazil at the port of Santos. “Differently from what Anvisa says, we get a lot more than ingredients for bakery goods. Every week we receive rice, beverages, such as sake, along with mushrooms and dried marine algae from Japan,” says a note from the union of inspectors.
Embassy in Libya Shortchanged
The Brazilian embassy in Tripoli has become a victim of United Nations sanctions against the Libya of Col. Muammar Gadafi.
The sanctions, citing excessive regime brutality, were approved by the UN Security Council on February 27. They prohibit banking transactions with Libya and, in an unusual move, refer that country to the International Criminal Court.
The only other time that has happened was in 2005, when the Security Council referred Sudan to the ICC.
The Brazilian embassy in Tripoli receives money from the Brazilian Foreign Ministry through a Banco do Brasil branch in New York. Under the terms of the Security Council sanctions, no bank in the United States will transfer funds to Libya.
As a result, the embassy has run out of money and the ambassador, George Ney de Souza Fernandes is now the only Brazilian diplomat still in the country and has reported serious problems in keeping the embassy open. The rest of the staff was sent to Italy.
The Ministry of Foreign Relations, Itamaraty, says it is sending a courier with money to the embassy. For security reasons, they did not release any further details.