Wednesday, June 11, 2008

South Koreans beef with mad cow

Today in Seoul, 200,000 South Koreans took to the streets to protest their government's decision to resume imports of US beef. Or, for some perspective, that would be the equivalent of 1.2 million Americans flooding the mall in DC to protest our government's decision to resume the imports of Mexican nachos.

The ban on US beef was instituted four and a half years ago after the discovery of Mad Cow disease in a holstein on a Washington state farm. Ostensibly, Mad Cow is why the ban is still in place, but no American or American cow has been infected with Mad Cow (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopath) since. In fact, in the recorded history of the world, only 193 humans have ever contracted the deadly infection, and the overwhelming majority of the victims have been in England.

South Korea takes great pride in their own local cattle industry, and it is possible the protesters have beef nationalism on the mind as much as they do BSE. And it is also true the secretive manner in which South Korea's new government reworked a free trade agreement with the US has irked the Korean public.

In response to the protest South Korea's entire cabinet and Prime Minister have offered their resignation.

I can't help but thinking that none of this would have ever happened if the press had named the extremely rare Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy "woozy" or "drunken" cow disease.

No comments: