Public Should be Educated on Foot-and-Mouth DiseaseThe outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which was first reported in Paju, Kyonggi-do, has dwindled meat consumption and affected the livestock industry in Korea.
There are crucial questions, like how far the epidemic has spread and have the nation's hogs been affected? Related government authorities should identify the origins of the disease and come up with countermeasures to minimize damage.
Apart from the prevention of a nationwide epidemic, consumer confidence in Korea's meat products should be restored. The government's ban on the transport of animals in affected areas and the quarantine of livestock farms should not frighten people. Scientific evidence assures us that foot-and-mouth disease is not harmful to humans.
On March 31, in a failed government attempt to ease fears among the public, ministers, lawmakers, and civic leaders were asked to eat meat from Paju in an extraordinary meeting of the national assembly. The participants first refused, but later ate the meat when they were informed that the beef was not actually from Paju. The demonstration did little to erase misconceptions on 'infected' meat, and only raised the suspicions of the public.
With such leadership, who needs an epidemic? Educating the public and promoting an already damaged meat industry should be on the forefront of the government's agenda.