Put People’s Health First
Regarding the editorial ``Ill-Prepared Market Opening,'' published in the April 24 edition of The Korea Times, I absolutely agree with the idea that the beef market opening is not just an economic issue but a matter of life and health.
According to the April 18 bilateral deal, U.S. beef will be imported to Korea without restrictions on the cattle's age and parts from mid-May.
The United States can export all the parts except some intestine parts of cattle slaughtered at less than 30 months of age. Those parts from cattle older than 30 months, which have a higher risk of mad cow disease, will be imported later if the United States strengthens rules on animal protein use in cattle.
The beef market opening will not only affect the prices of Korean cattle (hanwoo), pork and chicken but also threaten the health of Koreans.
The prices of hanwoo, pork and chicken will severely drop to compete with the cheap U.S. beef. It is unacceptable to import some parts of cattle that may be able to cause mad cow disease.
It may be simply said that people who don't want to eat U.S. beef can refuse to purchase it. But how can we stop schools or company cafeterias from providing food cooked with U.S. beef to our beloved children and family?
In addition, we can't trust the loose U.S. meat inspection system. The import of U.S. beef has repeatedly been restricted for the past four or five years in Korea because the banned parts of the cattle were contained in shipments.
Recently, many people also were shocked with the release of video footage of sick cows being slaughtered and sold to the public in the United States.
I doubt that President Lee Myung-bak considered the health of Koreans enough before signing the Korea-U.S. beef trade deal. He decided to open the Korean beef market only one day before he visited the United States.
His decision seemed to show a kind gesture to President George W. Bush to promote the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement. The Korean government must put the health of all Koreans first.