Misleading about kkaennip beer
I was quite surprised in reading an Oct. 25 Korea Times article, “Italians invent ‘kkaennip’ beer.”
The reporter spent one full day on an Italy-Korea workshop on food and biodiversity, and had long interviews with Italian lecturers, including Prof. Angela Bassoli.
The content of the article is however seriously misleading and because of the close and excellent cooperation we entertain with The Korea Times, I wish to take the issue with your personal evaluation.
The impression given in the article is that Italians invented a new beer, that this new beer is based on perilla, that perilla is an exclusively Korean plant, and that Italians used therefore a Korean property without any permission or sharing the profits.
You realize, I am sure, how such misleading information is seriously damaging Italian scientists and professors. I think it would be advisable to recollect all the information so to better focus on the elements showing how misleading they are.
The plant perilla comprises many different varieties and cultivars, diffused worldwide. It is commonly used in gastronomy in China, Japan, Vietnam and many other countries.
It is used for gastronomy (even if it is not so popular as other aromatic plants) also in Europe and the U.S. Therefore Koreans are not “the only people that use perilla in their diet.”
The K-beer has been manufactured with perilla cultivated in Italy with commercial seeds and plants by international resellers.
The K-beer is not a patent. As researchers, the professors of the University of Milano, are not “looking for retailers and importers” since this is outside the aims of their work.
Instead, it’s worthy to underline that this beer is one of the results of a collaboration project titled, “Bioactive compounds for the valorization and promotion of traditional food.”
In this context, I think that it has to be thought not as a “misappropriation” of an exclusive Korean genetic resource, as the article could incorrectly suggest to the readers, but rather as a “homage” of Italian science and creativity to Korea.
The article has been written based on information obtained during the workshop “Food and Biodiversity,” organized and financed by the Embassy of Italy with the participation of the Korea Food Research Institute (KFRI).
I was very disappointed to note that there is no citation about many other activities of scientific collaboration that have been done; therefore the overall article seems to point out some possible “controversies” that could rise from the collaboration, more than to the many and valuable positive outcome coming thereof for both countries.
Massimo Andrea Leggeri
Italian ambassador to Korea