Beefed up factsThe controversy over U.S. beef imports has snowballed into a confused and worrisome state. Following a TV show that inflamed a sense of insecurity over mad cow disease, a candlelight vigil was held at the heart of the city over plans to resume beef imports from America.
The opposition is taking advantage of the situation by demanding to renegotiate the deal and the dismissal of the responsible minister.
Meanwhile, Sohn Hak-kyu, chairman of the United Democratic Party, has changed his position even though he previously said the National Assembly should ratify the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
We understand the uneasiness felt by ordinary people. The previous administration refrained from a full resumption of imports claiming that people's health was at risk. However, the current administration decided to open the market before the Korea-U.S. summit talks.
People are justifiably curious about the change of events. If the government had communicated carefully its plans to resume U.S. beef imports before and after reaching the agreement, the aftermath would have been less chaotic.
That said, the irrational spread of fear and skepticism flies against the facts.
Ninety-six percent of the beef that 300 million U.S. citizens and 2 million Korean-Americans eat comes from the U.S. It is the same beef that will be imported to Korea.
We don's need to dredge up what the veterinarians have said and what the pathological facts indicate.
The sheer number of people eating U.S. beef proves that fears surrounding the resumption of imports are groundless.
We live in an era of global exchanges. If we close the market because of an insecurity as small as the eye of a needle, we may miss a market as big as an elephant. This is the rule of world affairs nowadays.
The National Assembly will open a hearing on U.S. beef imports on Wednesday. Many experts will give evidence. People who have flooded into the streets after hearing or reading inaccurate news stories should now extinguish their candles, go home and watch the hearings on TV this week.
At the same time, the opposition and a few media organizations should not forget their responsibility to the public good.
If people in society get as worked up over U.S. beef imports as they did when a U.S. armored vehicle killed Hyosun and Miseon, then they are no better than a common cow.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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