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Mad over Mad Cows

Needless to say, the Hani isn’t very happy with the government’s refusal so far to order a ban on US beef imports:

Seoul’s response was tepid. Far from ordering any immediate quarantine inspection suspensions, all it has done is announce that it will be requesting information from Washington and strengthening its quarantine measures. This is far too casual an approach to take, given how intently the South Korean public is watching. It is all well and fine to be cautious, but this response raises questions as to whether the government’s priorities lie with citizen health or with the interests of the United States. It seems to have already forgotten that the candlelight vigils against mad cow disease four years ago were triggered by the irresponsible attitude of the government, which seemed to put citizen health second.

The conservative press is taking a more measured approach:

But it is too early to tell if the lethal disease has been found in U.S. beef imports. Korea restricts U.S. beef imports to cattle younger than 30 months old as older animals are at higher risk of having the disease – and to cattle whose specified risk material (SRM) is removed. In general, it takes a long time before the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) officially notifies a country of the existence of the disease in cattle as the government needs to conduct an epidemiologic investigation before the OIE makes a final judgment. It is also difficult for the Korean government to take unilateral action to suspend beef imports because of its obligation to respect the agreed hygiene conditions.

Yet, we should take into account our deep psychological trauma from the massive protest in 2008. A year later, the government established guidelines for dealing with a breakout of the disease. According to them, the quarantine authorities immediately stop inspections on beef imports from a suspicious country and then decide whether to impose restrictions on beef imports after experts’ assessment of the risk.

However, the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries appears to be fueling people’s anxiety by announcing that it will reach a final decision after collecting more information on the disease. The authorities must quickly stop quarantining U.S. beef. Under any circumstances, the government must prioritize the safety of its people ahead of anything to receive their trust.

My guess is, cool and measured won’t win the day.

The progressive press is taking particular note of an advertisement, run in all the major papers, purchased by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MIFAFF) in May of 2008 promising that if a case of Mad Cow Disease were discovered in the United States, Korea would immediately stop US beef imports. The government repeated this promise in a press release the following month. The left is calling on the government to keep its promises, but the problem is, every time the government went out and talked about immediate import bans, the American side warned them this would be unacceptable. For those who read Korean, check out the Hani’s chart on this:

When Korea’s livestock quarantine law was amended in August of 2008 (with opposition support, the Chosun Ilbo notes), it allowed Seoul to suspend imports of US beef if need be, but did not mandate it. One opposition lawmaker thinks a secret deal was cut, but judging from the language and the government response so far, I don’t know if there even has to be—see Cheong Wa Dae’s response:

“The government’s foremost priority is people’s health,” said Blue House spokesman Park Jeong-ha. “We insisted earlier on that the government would immediately suspend imports only if mad cow disease detected in the U.S. threatens national health but there are no grounds for believing that at present.”

Park also said (see the Hani link) that the government didn’t violate its promise in the advertisement because the government could not sufficiently explain everything because ad copy is too short.

I’ll say it for the 10,000th time—if the Lee Myung-bak administration has had a fatal flaw, it is its ham-fisted public relations efforts.

Allow me a second to let out a Mel Gibson-esque roar.

(Leaves room, lets out a Mel Gibson-esque roar.)

The Agriculture Minister didn’t inspire much confidence at a press conference either, basically saying that because US embassy people had told him that US beef was safe—the Mad Cow in question was a dairy cow over 30 months old with an atypical form of the disease—the situation didn’t require an import suspension. This might very well be true, sure, but the manner in which he explained it left much to be desired.

Oh, the Hani also reported that Koreans are more susceptible to developing vCJD because Koreans eat beef bone broth and gopchang, and Korea has a relatively higher percentage of people with a gene making them weak against the disease. The Hani admits the latter is controversial, although they failed to mention why.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • http://www.idlewordship.net Bobby McGill

    “… this response raises questions as to whether the government’s priorities lie with citizen health or with the interests of the United States.”

    Yah, because the government wants to kill all the taxpayers. Their entire argument is fundamentally deluded.

  • red sparrow

    The Hani, serving up pinko rag fish wrapping since 1988.

    If that paper is so concerned about public safety, they might devote a few more column centimetres urging people to not drive through red lights or ignore every other common-sense traffic law.

    They could also address a few more other obvious needs rather than encouraging people to be scared of a hamburger.

  • Yu Bum Suk

    http://ca.news.yahoo.com/factbox-mad-cow-cases-u-canada-105952583.html

    “Canada had a total of five BSE cases in 2006 and nine between 2007 and 2010, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    March 2011
    Canada confirms the disease in an Alberta dairy cow. The case is believed to be Canada’s 18th.”

    I don’t know if Canadian beef is currently allowed in but Canadian beef gets exported to the US for slaughter and finds its way here. And yet I’ve never, ever heard any concern over Canadian beef in Korea. Why? Because this is all about anti-American politics and nothing to do with public health. I’m as anti-American as they come in Canada and even I find this ridiculous.

  • yuna

    Steve Elkington (Australian golfer) in the (Korean) news for tweeting:

    Dozens of Korean supermarkets have stopped selling USA beef.(mad cow). Duck feet, eyeballs, frogs, rats, dogs & bird nests still available.)

    He tweeted later:

    Koreans are upset with me and I don’t blame them. it was an ignorant joke about there(he means their) culture.

  • bumfromkorea

    And the consequent death threat:

    Do not say it was a joke.Politely apologize to Korean.Otherwise, l will reserve my ticket to get your neck off.I swear.

  • http://technobar.blogspot.com TheStumbler

    As a public service, I’m starting a no-cost American beef disposal service. Citizens of Seoul can bring their recently purchased American beef to me for immediate and safe hazardous material processing. Round and Chuck cuts should preferably be marinated. Tri-tips and ribs go to the front of the line.

  • http://www.maxwatson.com/ Max Watson

    This crap again?
    Wonderful time to show your students that the media is not about “facts”, but rather opinions masquerading as truths mixed with anti-U.S. sentiment and populist politics. In a word: bullshit.

    This is the 4th sick cow ever reported in the U.S. The fact it was reported shows an amazing level of transparency that Korea cannot even aspire to. Of the four sick cows, one was from Canada, one was believed to have atypical BSE (a rare and spontaneous genetic disease unconnected to cattle feed that cannot be prevented, and can occur anywhere in the world–even Korea), one cow in Texas did truly have BSE, and then this recent case of atypical BSE. That’s one mere confirmed case of BSE in the states. Contrast that to over 180,000 in the U.K.

    In terms of affected people, only three folks have ever died in America from vCJD. Two were U.K. citizens who’d eaten plenty of tainted meat in their homeland and had not been long in the U.S. before they perished. The third was a Saudi who was also infected from eating imported meat (likely European) while in his home country. There has not been one proven American death from eating American beef.

    Where is the smoking gun? There isn’t one, but prepare for much more ado about absolutely nothing.

  • YangachiBastardo

    The whole thing is about protecting the local agri sector, something every country on earth does, including the US. Actually the US agri is one of the most protected and subsidised in the world, through low interest credit, tariffs, quotas, invisible red tape etc. etc. if it wasn’t so, it would be probably wiped out in just a few years by way more competitive Brazilian imports

  • hardyandtiny

    everyone has nothing to say about this issue

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    Homeplus took all USA cow meat off the shelves for 12 hours – then put it back on the shelves again.

    Lotte locked all theirs up in the freezers and may put it back on the shelves by the weekend.

    Koreans are taking it more calmly this time.

    Why not? It’s not like Koreans stopped eating pork products last year, when they have to cull half of their pigs when they were found to be diseased.

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    I would be more worried about food products coming from China containing melamine – as Chinese are still adding it to their foods.

  • cm

    #3, South Korea began to re-import Canadian beef after years of banning, starting couple of months ago.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    I really wish the progressives would not latch onto this issue too much. The enemy is no longer LMB, it’s PGH — and attacking LMB further on this issue won’t do much good for the presidential election.

    The real issue is not even truly about whether mad cow threat is real. It is about whether a government is supposed to keep the very public promise that it made. If it cannot keep that promise, why bother making it? All you progressive-haters waved and waved your arms about how progressives changed their words about the FTA and the Jeju naval base. Where are you now, O keepers of consistency?

    Yah, because the government wants to kill all the taxpayers. Their entire argument is fundamentally deluded.

    Given the conservative government’s track record of being reckless with food and environmental policies in a way that endangered the taxpayers’ lives (not to mention the track record of actually killing the taxpayers,) I would not be so dismissive.

    Look, disagree all you want with the mad cow issue. There is nothing wrong with disagreement. But don’t characterize those involved as stupid, irrational or deluded, because that is simply incorrect. These people taking a rational stance toward a real issue. At least start from that baseline.

    If that paper is so concerned about public safety, they might devote a few more column centimetres urging people to not drive through red lights or ignore every other common-sense traffic law.

    Do you also go around yelling at dematologists, “Why aren’t you devoting yourself to curing cancer? If you care about human lives, why do you bother with skin ailments when there are more pressing things around?”

    I don’t know if Canadian beef is currently allowed in but Canadian beef gets exported to the US for slaughter and finds its way here. And yet I’ve never, ever heard any concern over Canadian beef in Korea. Why?

    Why? Because unlike with U.S. beef, Korea can actually halt the importation of Canadian beef when a case of BSE appears in Canada. Canada also has a much, much stronger regulation on Specified Risk Materials (i.e. soft tissue) than U.S.

    This is the 4th sick cow ever reported in the U.S. The fact it was reported shows an amazing level of transparency that Korea cannot even aspire to.

    You are the one who needs to get your facts straight. U.S. tests its cattles for BSE based on sample testing, which means only 0.1% of American cattles are ever tested for BSE. Four cases of BSE out of 0.1% of the cattle — that’s a real cause for concern. In contrast, every single head of cattle in Korea is tested for BSE, and no case of BSE was ever reported in Korea.

    Why not? It’s not like Koreans stopped eating pork products last year, when they have to cull half of their pigs when they were found to be diseased.

    Shows how much you know. Demand for pork in Korea plummeted after the foot-and-mouth disease. Read Korean newspapers once in a while.

  • YangachiBastardo

    The enemy is no longer LMB, it’s PGH

    Enemy ???? In modern politics, there are adversaries, not enemies…

  • YangachiBastardo

    I would be more worried about food products coming from China containing melamine

    I don’t even understand how and why China export food products at all. A ountry with 1.4 billion people, a relatively barren environment and a vast (if shrinking) trade surplus does NOT need to send their food products abroad.

    It’s not that they don’t have a State able to steer their trading policies in the direction wanted

  • Charles Tilly

    Enemy ???? In modern politics, there are adversaries, not enemies…

    You’ll have to clue some of us in on the distinction.

  • YangachiBastardo

    You’ll have to clue some of us in on the distinction

    adversaries= think of some Olympic fencing final

    enemies= think of me encounterin late at night in a dark alley some Jimmy Jackasshole donnin’ a Man U jersey.

    Enemy is a word that implies hatred or at least extreme partizanship, which is an absolute and more and more common disgrace in many advanced countries

  • Charles Tilly

    Thanks for the effort.

  • jk6411

    TK said:

    “U.S. tests its cattles for BSE based on sample testing, which means only 0.1% of American cattles are ever tested for BSE.
    In contrast, every single head of cattle in Korea is tested for BSE, and no case of BSE was ever reported in Korea.”

    Well, if the U.S. tests only 0.1% of its cows, then that testing is close to useless.
    Can you imagine how many infected cows would slip through the system?

    If Koreans were so nervous about mad cow disease, they shouldn’t import any US beef whatsoever. (Why make a fuss only when there’s a reported case of mad cow? Stop importing US beef period.)
    With the U.S. testing being so lax, everyone who eats US beef are always at risk, don’t you think?

    Let them just eat mad cow-free Korean beef.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    What’s all the fuss about? The cow in question was a “downer” cow, not mad cow.

    http://vitals.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/26/11419719-usda-calif-mad-cow-was-lame-lying-down-at-dairy

  • slim

    Can’t we all just let prions be prions?

  • jk6411

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-greger-md/mad-cow-disease-california_b_1450994.html

    Here’s an article that might make your stomach turn..

    I wish they would just feed cows grass and grains, what God intended them to eat.
    (Then we wouldn’t have to worry about this mad cow freakin’ disease.)

  • Pingback: Park Geun-hye Calls For Stop To Import of US Beef Into Korea | ROK Drop

  • R. Elgin

    This is the 4th sick cow ever reported in the U.S. The fact it was reported shows an amazing level of transparency that Korea cannot even aspire to . . .

    I think you need to re-think your opinion here. The US Meat industry is not in favour of transparency, rather they do not want more testing done and justify this position with statistics. You can also consider this 2003 article as well.

    South Korea will send inspectors to the US to check farms and I hope they really grill their counterparts – well done.

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    Why not? It’s not like Koreans stopped eating pork products last year, when they have to cull half of their pigs when they were found to be diseased.

    Shows how much you know. Demand for pork in Korea plummeted after the foot-and-mouth disease. Read Korean newspapers once in a while.

    I do read Korean newspapers – News for you – you actually aren’t the ONLY foreigner to read Korean newspapers.

    The link you gave states: 54% of respondents said pork consumption has reduced.

    Yes… reduced! They didn’t stop eating just ate less.

    why did they eat less????

    Out of the 54% who reduced pork consumption, 73% stated the REASON was because of the PRICE RISE of the pork.

    Oh! Wow! They just couldn’t afford to eat it….

  • Charles Tilly

    While the issue of preventing mad cow shit from even happening is one thing, at the very least, the US needs to put in place a cattle tracking systems so to at least mitigate further problems once an instance of mad cow is discovered.

    And please, spare me the libertarian hack/bullshit in this instance. Okay? Your property’s one thing. But the issue of my burger and steak is far more important.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Out of the 54% who reduced pork consumption, 73% stated the REASON was because of the PRICE RISE of the pork.

    And why did the price rise, dum dum?

  • Yu Bum Suk

    “Why? Because unlike with U.S. beef, Korea can actually halt the importation of Canadian beef when a case of BSE appears in Canada.”

    They have no idea whether the “American” beef originated in Canada or not.

    “Canada also has a much, much stronger regulation on Specified Risk Materials (i.e. soft tissue) than U.S.”

    I did not know this. However I’m sure that Korean news junkies know a lot more about beef regulations than almost anyone else in the world. All I know is that I’m still much more concerned about consuming Korean chicken than any beef available in this country, and that’s still not enough to stop me voraciously digging into a plate of yangneom chicken.

  • inkevitch

    #26 “And why did the price rise, dum dum?”

    Because demand greatly out stripped supply. Hardly supports your argumant of “Demand for pork in Korea plummeted “. Maybe you should have a chat to WangKon about economics.

    It is ok to be a condescending prat if you are correct.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    And why did the price rise, dum dum?

    Probably only because of the restrictions on the import of European pork!

  • bballi bballi Paradise

    TK from 13
    But don’t characterize those involved as stupid, irrational or deluded, because that is simply incorrect.

    TK from 26
    And why did the price rise, dum dum?

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    It is ok to be a condescending prat if you are correct.

    It is ok to be on a high horse if you followed the discussion from the top.

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    What’s worse than a condescending prat?

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    One who doesn’t give up.

  • YangachiBastardo

    Tilly: how much the rfidin’ of the largest fleet of cattles in the world (bar maybe China ?) would cost ?

    I’m not against it, i just wonder if consumers could stomach the true cost of “cheap beef”

    And why did the price rise, dum dum?

    Probably only because of the restrictions on the import of European pork!

    Add on top of that the oligopolistic structure of the wholesale distribution

  • Q

    Experience says that whenever sporadic cases of liver or lung flukes were alerted in news media, sushi price dropped. Likewise, it could be a great chance to eat beef in real cheap price. Great chance to go more often for gamjatang

  • Q

    or galbi, bulgogi… actually gamjatang is not beef but made of spine of pig.

  • Charles Tilly

    Tilly: how much the rfidin’ of the largest fleet of cattles in the world (bar maybe China ?) would cost ?

    I’m not against it, i just wonder if consumers could stomach the true cost of “cheap beef”

    I’m confused as to what you’re trying to get at here. I’m just going to assume that you’re concerned with the cost issue of implementing a tracking system. If so, I think it’s an investment worth making that will actually be economically beneficial. Simply put, I think such a system can mitigate the huge disruptions that occur to the industry whenever this mad cow shit happens.

  • PineForest

    Protectionism in The Dae Han Min Fucked? I’m shocked. Think I’ll have steak and eggs for breakfast.

  • CactusMcHarris

    ‘or galbi, bulgogi… actually gamjatang is not beef but made of spine of pig.’

    Let me piggyback my comment on yours – do you know if there’s a marmot recipe?

  • R. Elgin

    . . . I think such a system can mitigate the huge disruptions that occur to the industry whenever this mad cow shit happens

    I can only wonder why the industry in America is so dead-set against checking if the beef supply is so safe. Again, I think the American Meat Industry doesn’t care about public safety though they are required to tip their hat to it. That is why Roosevelt had to enact the meat inspection act and I also don’t think that the avarice that drove the meat industry in 1906 is any different than today, though their profits must be greater than that time.

  • are6729

    ^Well said

    btw, pineforest is a dumb fucktard.

  • Q

    do you know if there’s a marmot recipe?

    As far as I know, Sir, marmot does not live in Korea (except uncle Marmot), so cuisine of marmot would not exist. Koreans do not eat squirrels or rats either. Here might be an answer to your question. Steve Elkington sounds ignorant when he tweeted that Korean supermarkets sell rat meat. 쥐포 (dried filefish fillet) is not 쥐고기(rat meat). However, Sir, you could eat anything available if you were in desperate condition. I heard of some N. Koreans in concentration camps eat rodents to survive.

  • Wedge

    This beef issue is pretty simple: If Uncle Nihon had stopped U.S. beef imports due to this BSE case, then so would the Korean government. Without that big brother cover, they wouldn’t dare. Indonesia being the lone naysayer doesn’t cut it.

  • PineForest

    Reminds me of the 10 year moratorium on imported rice that had been agreed to in trade talks with the US.. after 10 years the Trolls in the ROK ‘Gov’t’ begged for more time… totally screwed US ag in doing so.

  • http://dok.do/4aVK41 Year of the Dragon

    Koreans prefer to eat a rice that offers half the amount of fibre as imported rice – simply because it’s easier to pick up with chopsticks.

  • Arghaeri

    What their sales to korea suddenly dropped from Zilch to Zilch.

  • RolyPoly

    So, Koreans want to play “Japanese Stop-Import” game. OK, Won will appreciate and it will hurt Korean export overseas.

    Samsung and Hyundai will be slaughtered by German and Japanese companies overseas and some foreign brands will even take over Korean market.

    Bye, bye the miracle of Han River.

  • Q

    Osaks-born 2Mb might think like that but Japan is not an uncle of Korea. Unlike Korea, Japan could not sustain their dinner table without imported foreign beef because their territory is pretty much being contaminated by ongoing radiation leakage from Fukushima. It would be hard to find out safe domestic farm product in Japan. And unceasing earthquake aggravates the disaster. More at: http://enenews.com/ Massive radiation refuge is expected to flood out of Japan soon.