S. Koreans got beef with US beef; so should Americans

Nearly 100,000 South Koreans demonstrated in central Seoul Tuesday, which was a culmination of anger over the decision by the Bush regime's new BFF South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to lift a 5-year ban on US beef in accordance with a new trade deal.

The Korean-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) is the yet to be signed deal that will be the most important milestone in US-South Korean relations since the end of the Korean War. A signed agreement would approve a substantial amount of money flowing between the two nations.

But President Lee poorly misread the sentiments of most South Koreans. The protesters are not having any to do with US beef, due largely to concerns about the meat being contaminated with mad cow disease.

From The New York Times:

To many South Koreans, however, the beef dispute was not entirely about health concern or science. It was not entirely about the economy, either — beef from the United States is half the price of homegrown meat. To them, it is also the latest symbolic test of whether their leader can resist pressure from superpowers, even if there is good reason for the pressure, as is the case in the beef dispute. South Korea had promised to lift the ban once the World Organization for Animal Health ruled American beef fit for consumption, as it did last September.

South Korea has built the world’s 13th largest economy largely through exports. Nonetheless, historical resentments linger.

South Koreans in their 40s remember a popular childhood song handed down from their fathers and grandfathers: “Don’t be cheated by the Soviets. Don’t trust the Americans. Or the Japanese will rise again.” Koreans still chafe at the fact that the United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea after liberating it from Japanese colonial rule at the end of World War II.

But getting back to the beef (the meat that is), this only begs the question - why are Americans not as outraged about contaminated foods?

Well, for one thing, the US media has no interest in telling the American people the truth behind bad food. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but as a journalist who has seen a lot of "stuff" happen behind the scenes, it is not a coincidence that most major news outlets are giving the South Korean protests, which have been going on for the last six weeks, either little or no attention as to why the protests are really happening. Could it be that most news media today (NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, NYT, Time, Newsweek etc) is owned by corporations that sleep in the same bed (or in polite company, sit on the same boards) with other corporations that put out crap food?

hmmm, thinking out loud...

Secondly, Americans have become simply oblivious about bad food. The latest recall from the Food and Drug Administration are for salmonella-tainted tomatoes, which have reportedly sicken over 160 Americans. Everyday during lunch I go to this supermarket around the corner from work that has a pretty decent salad bar. (Yes, I am on the diet watch, y'all!) For the last few days I have been going there, not only does the supermarket still put out tomatoes at the bar, but I see customers taking the ticking red time bombs, like it was no big thing. And probably it isn't a big thing. Hell, if we stopped eating everything that had to be recalled, there wouldn't be a lot to eat.

However, due to globalization, there are going to be more food recalls and more people getting sick, simply because we are not demanding to be educated about the consequences of the food we eat as a result of today's global economy.

If the following doesn't bother you, than I don't know what will.

From Alternet:

Earlier this month the Bush administration urged a federal appeals court to reverse a lower court ruling that allowed Arkansas City, Kan.-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef to conduct advanced mad cow testing on its animals -- presumably because it would raise consumer questions and make other packers look bad. (viz. BST-free milk labels)

"This is the government telling the consumers, 'You're not entitled to this information,'" protested Creekstone attorney Russell Frye, according to the Associated Press -- a charge also heard in March when the USDA refused to name companies selling 143 million pounds of recalled Westland/Hallmark beef because the information was "proprietary."

Meat from 200,000 dairy cows was impounded after a Humane Society of the United States undercover video was released depicting slaughter of downer cattle -- a violation of U.S. mad cow regulations.

The video may even have reached South Korea.

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