Renegotiations Over US Beef
An April 24 editorial, "Ill-Prepared Market Opening,'' helped me realize the seriousness of the harmful effects beef imports will bring to innocent Korean consumers.
As an ordinary citizen, I had thought that mad cow disease was a rare illness and has little to do with our daily lives.
The deal specifies that certain materials from cattle of 30 months of age or older are scheduled to be shipped to Korea.
What is more gruesome is that all the cases of mad cow disease are related to beef older than 30 months. Until now, only cattle under 30 months have been imported.
President Lee Myung-bak said, ``Consumers can refuse it if they don't like it." However, quite contrary to what he said, even though we don't buy beef imported from the United States, the malformed prion, the protein that causes the disease, is easily passed on to other items in the procedure dealing with the U.S. beef in butcher shops.
To make matters even worse, ``cheap'' American beef could be consumed in various forms of food additives in processed food products including instant noodles ― Koreans' all time favorite snack food. We wouldn't know whether or not we are eating food contaminated with prions.
According to a recent news article in a local newspaper, the low quality hamburger ``patties'' lots of local school cafeterias sell to students pose a serious danger to our kids' health.
There is a high possibility that the people who make the already troubled hamburgers will use the cheap imported beef to make profits.
It is hard to get rid of the suspicion that the Korean government made too many concessions when closing the problematic beef deal.
The ruling Grand National Party had insisted only until as late as 9 months ago when it was an opposition party that Korea should stop U.S. beef imports because of the fear for the horrible, brain-wasting illness.
Now, they have completely changed their attitude toward this matter with even more favorable conditions to the United States.
I desperately want to know whether or not there exists any slightest chance of having renegotiations with the United States. The people's health should have first been taken into consideration over economic benefits of cheaper beef when they made this decision.
The health of 50 million people living in this country is hanging in the balance.
Teacher in Seoul