Evaluation of Chemical exposure due to Subsistence Transition in rural parts of Asia

Research Project , Research Report 2008

Masahiro UMEZAKI Department of Human Ecology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo
Chiho WATANABE Department of Human Ecology, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo
Yukio IKEMOTO The Institute of Oriental Culture, University of Tokyo
Makiko SEKIYAMA Transdisciplinary Initiative for Global Sustainability, University of Tokyo


Most of the rural regions in Asian-Pacific countries undergo a very rapid transition from traditional subsistence to cash-economy agriculture. Such transition entails introduction and release-accumulation of chemical substances, such as pesticides and food additives, into the local ecosystem, which in turn would affect not only the health and survival of the inhabitants, but also the safety of local produce. In this project, choosing six Asia-Pacific countries, we will describe such transition and its environmental consequences in detail and, through systematic analyses, reveal the interrelationship between the transition and the changes of local chemical environments. Final goal of the project will be to make a policy recommendation to minimize unnecessary adverse consequences of such transition.   We have collected over 5500 samples and the information on the drivers and descriptors of subsistence transition from Indonesia, Nepal, Viet Nam, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh and China (Hainan) and analyzed them with various procedures. The results of analyses revealed that 1) within-country difference appeared to be larger than between-country difference; 2) the effects of a subsistence transition may be different by sex, which may have some biological background; 3) the relationship between the policy and subsistence/health appears to have a unique aspect in each community with unique context only applicable to that society.


chemical exposure, subsistence transition, health impact, cash crop, Asia