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Biz Leaders, Doctors Eat U.S. Beef to Allay Fears

Posted July. 10, 2008 08:44,   


“It’s almost impossible for a human to die of mad cow disease contracted from American beef. Percentage-wise, it’s zero percent,” said Mun Tae-jun, honorary chairman of the Korea Medical Association.

Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik said, “It’s gnawing at us all. The candlelight protests will get us nowhere. Now, it’s time to concentrate on reviving the national economy. Here, medical doctors and specialists are enjoying [U.S.] beef. People will hopefully free themselves of this ungrounded fear.”

Major business leaders and doctors got together yesterday for a luncheon in Seoul with American beef on the menu.

On hand were 19 luminaries including Sohn, Daelim Industrial President Lee Yong-gu, the medical association’s head Choo Soo-ho and other renowned doctors.

They tasted American beef fillet imported under the new inspection guidelines, praising the meat as soft and tasty.

The beef fillet cost 11,000 won (about 11 U.S. dollars) per 150 grams, a lot cheaper than its equivalent in Korean beef (40,000 won).

On the restaurant wall, notices were posted reading, “We don’t sell American beef from cows less than 30 months old.”

Choo said, “It’s practically impossible to die of mad cow disease eating American beef. It’s almost impossible that American beef from a cow less than 30 months old can cause the disease in humans with specified risk materials removed.”

“False and exaggerated rumors have flared up, and people are trembling from the false fear. Some rumors say people can get infected with the disease just by eating American beef or breathing the air. It’s all a lie.”

Preventive medicine expert Yu Seung-heum, the president of the National Academy of Medicine of Korea, added, “Fewer than 10 people get infected with the human form of the disease a year in the world. Thus, the statistics carry no meaning medically.”

“The real threat might come not from American beef, but rather from Chinese food imports. The rallies seem to have been motivated by anti-American sentiment and liberal resistance to the conservative Lee administration.”

Participants also voiced worry over the prolonged and growing violent anti-U.S. beef protests.

Sohn said, “The two-month long demonstrations have shaken the whole nation, causing economic damage and scaring foreign investors away from us.”

Korean Air President Lee Jong-hee said, “Whenever I travel overseas, the residents there ask me whether it is OK to visit Korea. A regular meeting between American and Korean business leaders was canceled recently. Our nation is undoubtedly caught in the crossfire.”

The doctors and executives urged Koreans to leave the unproductive debate behind and march forward hand in hand to help the administration help the country survive the tumultuous economic situation.

Seoul National University Hospital director Seong Sang-cheol said, “People should trust us. We are the doctors. They should give the false rumors on the Internet. Now please go back to your jobs. We also urge the government to conduct more thorough inspections to relieve the fear.”