[EDITORIALS]U.S. beef ban should remainThe second round of talks was held yesterday between senior agriculture officials of Korea and the United States regarding Korea’s ban on imports of American beef, following the discovery of a case of mad cow disease.
The U.S. government delegation visiting Seoul, led by agriculture undersecretary J.B. Penn, stressed the safety of U.S. beef.
At the end of last year, the U.S. delegation led by David Hegwood, special counsel in the office of the U.S. secretary of agriculture, promoted steps that Washington has taken to protect its herds and its consumers from the brain-wasting disease. The United States is indirectly demanding that Korea resume imports of U.S. beef.
But lifting the ban is unreasonable. It is fair for the Korean government to maintain the ban on U.S. beef until the meat is proven safe. The matter is not subject to compromise.
It is the government’s obligation to ban imports of all types of food that threaten its people’s health. If the ban were to be lifted, the U.S. beef could be falsely sold as hanu, or Korean beef, dealing a further blow to Korea’s beef market.
The U.S. government would have done the same thing if a case of mad cow disease were discovered in Korea. The United States flatly refused to import European beef when cases of mad cow disease were discovered there. The U.S. government should be aware that Korean consumers would reject American beef unless the meat were proven to be perfectly safe.
Some experts suggest that the United States could raise trouble on other trade issues in connection with Korea’s import ban. They said that the United States might have listed Korea on the priority watch list for violating intellectual property rights earlier this month, contrary to expectations, in response to Korea’s decision to maintain the import ban on American meat.
But the matter involves the health of the Korean people, which should not be compromised by trade disputes. The government should not waver in this matter. The U.S. government should bear in mind that mishandling this matter could deepen anti-American sentiment here.
Lifting the ban on imports of U.S. beef should never be considered unless the meat is proven to be safe.