Don't Flirt With Disaster

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Don't Flirt With Disaster

With fears of the spread of mad cow disease sweeping the world, it is shocking to learn that beef from cattle slaughtered because they were suspected of being infected with the disease is to be supplied as food aid to North Korea. While Germany has been mulling over whether to provide the aid requested by Pyongyang, Switzerland announced Thursday that it would send North Korea more than 5 billion won's ($4 million) worth of beef.

Let us jump to our conclusion right here: no matter how bad the famine is in North Korea, Pyongyang must cancel these contemptible requests for assistance immediately, and any countries that have responded positively to such a request or are considering doing so must retract straightaway. Such aid violates civilized standards of morality or, to put it more bluntly, can be described as criminal.

To see just how serious a threat mad cow disease is, all we have to do is look at the measures that have been taken by Britain and other countries where it has been discovered and by countries concerned about the possibility of contagion. Countries with infected herds have slaughtered their cattle en masse and destroyed the carcasses, regardless of whether individual animals had been found to be infected or not. Other countries have banned imports of beef products to keep the disease out. According to epidemiologists, this disease has an incubation period of decades in human beings and its symptoms are virtually undetectable until the final stages.

It is extremely shortsighted of the North Koreans to request such food aid as a way of easing their famine. We cannot understand how they can feed such beef to their people when the danger of contracting the deadly Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is so great that even cosmetics manufacturers are not allowed to use beef byproducts in their goods. Surely the Swiss or the Germans would not call sending the North Koreans beef they themselves will not eat a humanitarian effort.

And in view of our national bond with the North, the government should give warning about such a serious danger and let North Koreans withdraw the aid request.

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