American beef imports, suspended for the past two years because of fears of mad cow disease, are predicted to resume after next April.
At the government offices on December 14, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) held a conference on the prevention of the disease among cattle with a congregation of government officials, veterinary school professors, and a group of representatives for beef producers as well as consumers, and concluded that there was no safety problem regarding American beef.
The final decision will be made by Minister Park Hong-soo of MAF, currently in Hong Kong for a WTO meeting of cabinet ministers, after he returns to Korea on December 19.
At a meeting on this day, experts expressed their opinion that there is no danger of an outbreak of the epidemic in American cows, and that if strict standards are applied to the import of beef, there is no danger.
In the middle of next week, after formally declaring the resumption of the import of American beef, the government plans to negotiate the conditions for import with the United States.
The international organization responsible for animal disease control, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) advised, Because boneless lean red meat of cows under 30 months old is not susceptible to the development of mad cow disease, its free trade should be permitted.
On this basis, the government will limit the import to cows aged under 30 months old and will exclude parts such as rib and backbone meat, and only allow lean red meat.
Park Hyun-Chul, the director of livestock farming for the MAF, explained, About two months after we conclude negotiations, we will be able to import beef. If the schedule for negotiations is considered, it is highly probable that beef imports will resume sometime between next April and June.