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Opposition Parties Seek Amendment

Posted June. 14, 2008 08:21,   


A public hearing on beef trade renegotiation and the revision of Livestock Epidemic Prevention Law was held on Friday. Three opposition parties -- the United Democratic Party, the Liberty Forward Party and the Democratic Labor Party -- organized the hearing and the ruling Grand National Party participated in the event. The GNP and the three opposition parties, however, confirmed their pointed difference over the view on the UDP revision proposal, which requires beef from cattle younger than 30 months old, without seven specific risk materials, be imported only when their age is confirmed.

Song Ki-ho of the Lawyers for Democratic Society, Park Sang-pyo of the Veterinarian Association for Public Health, Woo Seok-gyun of the Korea Federation of Medical Groups for Human Rights, who have been vocal in informing the public of the risk of mad cow disease, were all absent from the hearing despite invitation.

The three opposition parties decided to negotiate and create a bill on the livestock law on Monday and table it when the National Assembly begins.

▽ Opposition parties take the lead in renegotiation

UDP policy director Choi In-ki, who has been leading the party’s beef strategy, said, "The beef issue started with the mistake of deciding to open the market in the run-up to the Korea-U.S. summit. The National Assembly must draw renegotiation by passing the revision bill on the livestock law."

When the bill passes, the government must nullify the April negotiation and renegotiate with the United States according to new provisions including the one that bans the importation of beef from cattle older than 30 months.

"The UDP revision bill of banning cattle older than 30 months is not enough," said Kang Ki-kab of the Democratic Labor Party. "It should be cattle younger than 20 months that does not eat animal feed."

Kim Jong-ryul of the UDP refuted the government’s argument that the revision will conflict with the international negotiation result. He said limiting the lower law on the Korea-U.S. beef negotiation’s executive order with a revised higher law on livestock does not violate the international law.

▽ GNP says it will stop importing unsafe beef

Lim Tae-hee, policy director of the GNP, the only person who attended as a ruling party member, admitted the mistake of the initial negotiation by saying, "I offer my deepest apology."

"Opposition parties and Koreans as well as the government and the ruling party want to prevent unsafe U.S. beef from ending up on our table," said Lim. "If this goal is achieved in an additional negotiation, we do not have to revise the livestock law that could possibly cause trade conflicts and cool the relationship between the two countries."

He said, "We refer to it as an additional negotiation because the term “renegotiation” can be interpreted as destroying the previous negotiation, in consideration of Korea’s status as the 10th largest economy. Please focus on substantial negotiation results rather than on terms."

Some audience at the hearing raised questions about the UDP, the largest opposition party. A citizen, who introduced himself as a parent leading a school meal movement, said, "Is that all you can do, just agreeing with the GNP in banning imports of beef from cattle over 30 months old?" A member of the National Monitoring Network for Mad Cow Disease said, "The UDP has never properly discussed the revision bill with citizens who were out there to hold candlelight vigils."