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What is it with those kooky South Koreans? Thousands of them have rushed into the streets in angry protest against – get this – beef imported from the U.S. Are they just nuts? Or, do they know something we don’t?
South Koreans want none of our steaks and burgers on their plates, because of worries that America’s industrialized beef supply comes with a fatal dose of mad cow disease. So, since President Lee Myung-bak issued an edict in April to lift his country’s ban on U.S. beef imports, mass protests have nearly toppled his government.
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He hastily renegotiated a watered-down deal with the U.S., but the protesters have kept demanding his ouster, so he has now resorted to a police crackdown on them. Still, Korean supermarkets and restaurants are refusing to sell American beef, and even the McDonald’s branches there are advertising that their burgers are made from Australian beef.
The irony here is that American officials could easily assure the Korean people that our beef is free of mad cow disease by conducting a cheap and simple test on every cow that goes to slaughter. Europe and Japan already do this, thus certifying that their cattle are free of the deadly disease. But our own agriculture department refuses to allow such tests, instead arrogantly demanding that our international customers simply trust that every ounce of American beef is safe. Eat it and shut up, seems to be America’s marketing plan.
One reason ag officials won’t test is that they’re afraid they’ll find a much bigger mad cow problem than they tell us exists. In Europe, for example, instead of finding only a couple of diseased cattle, testing revealed more than 1,100 cases of mad cow in seemingly healthy cattle that had been approved for slaughter.
It’s not Korean consumers who are crazy – it’s our own public officials.
“Stop the Madness,” The New York Times, June 20, 2008.
“South Korea Cracks Down on Protesters,” www.nytimes.com , July 1, 2008.
“US beef returns to S Korean shops,” www,ukpress.google.com, July 1, 2008.
“South Korean Priests Lead Peaceful Anti-Government Beef Protest,” www.bloomberg.com, July 1, 2008.
“South Koreans Inspecting Stored U.S. Beef,” www.farmfutures.com, June 30, 2008
“Beef tops bombs on Rice visit to South Korea,” http://www.businessweek.com, June 28, 2008.