Deformed "Mutant" Daisies Photographed near Fukushima Spark New Radiation Worries
Snapshots of deformed daisies growing in Nasushiobara City are going viral online, causing many people to speculate that the mutated flowers are a result of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant located about 108 miles northeast. Beginning on March 11, 2011, an unknown quantity of radiation leaked from the power plant after it was damaged by a deadly earthquake and tsunami. The devastating disaster not only took thousands of lives and homes, but also sparked fears about the effect that the radiation leak could have on residents and the environment in the future.
The photos circulating online, which were recently captured and uploaded by Twitter user @san_kaido, show wild daisies that appear to be malformed. In the photographer's words (translated by the Fukushima Diary), "The right one grew, split into two stems and had two flowers connected to each other, having four stems of flower tied in a belt-like fashion. The left one has four stems that grew to be bound to each other and has ring-shaped flowers."
That amount of radiation is actually only slightly above normal levels, and is classified as being safe for "medium to long term habitation." In fact, scientists are wary of jumping to the conclusion that the daisies became mutated due to radiation in the area. Beth Krizek, a biologist at the University of South Carolina, told the Huffington Post that the deformity is called fasciation, is fairly normal, and was most likely not caused by radiation. HuffPo reports, "She explained that fasciation happens when something affects the way plant cells replicate, leading to the over-proliferation of some cells. It can be caused by naturally occurring mutation, hormonal changes or environmental stresses."
Still, there's always a possibility that the strange-looking daisies may have been altered by radiation. Until we see more signs of mutant daisies popping up near Fukushima, however, it'll remain a mystery.