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[Editorial] No More Exhaustive Conflict on U.S. Beef

Posted May. 06, 2008 05:20,   


The controversy over U.S. beef import is getting out of control. Needless to mention the Internet, but even in the street demonstrations, in which middle and high school students participated, overflowing voices decried the government. Many openly assert the impeachment of the president. The opposition parties demand that the government invalidate the previous negotiation and renegotiate the beef issue. The government and the ruling party are incapable of showing proper reactions.

There is no rational and scientific approach in the conflict around the U.S. beef imports. The core issue is whether it is safe from the risk of mad cow disease. It is also important whether specified risk materials (SRMs) are completely removed from beef aged over 30 months from slaughter. But the faction against the import of U.S. beef does not show any interest in these substantial issues, and is busy driving the controversy toward a political conflict with unsupported assertions and wild speculations.

Politicians have to regain themselves. The United Democratic Party said it will initiate an act to invalidate the reopening of the Korean market to American beef if the government fails to agree to renegotiate during the hearing. Does it logically follow that they propose a hearing where the problem of the negotiation can be discussed and then set forth the renegotiation deal even before the problems are discussed? A responsible party would not easily mention the nullification of state-to-state negotiations or renegotiation.

As the problem worsened, the government is belatedly coming up with a number of measures. It said it will request partial amendment on the negotiation to the United States after seeing the results of the negotiations between Washington and Tokyo, and Taipei. It also said it will dispatch inspectors to the production-line of beef to be exported to Korea to observe the sanitation or quarantine status and station quarantine controllers there. Had the government opened everything transparently, made proper measures and invited the people to understand the process, the situation would not have deteriorated to the current level.

A National Assembly hearing on U.S. beef imports is scheduled tomorrow. Politician will have to put an end to an exhaustive dispute and find a way to a constructive alternative through an open debate. The government will have to rid the people of the sense of insecurity by means of faithful answers and reasonable plans. The current controversy on U.S. beef is far from what can happen in a mature society.