U.S.-Korean Trade Agreement Stalls

It looks like the impasse on the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement will get worse before it gets better. A mad cow disease scare is reaching epidemic proportions among the Korean public. The beef scare is stalling passage of the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement.

President Lee Myung-Bak has been under heavy fire ever since he decided to lift the 2003 ban on importing U.S. beef. The public outcry climaxed in a 100,000-strong protest over the weekend in Seoul.

Koreans are terrified that eating U.S. beef will give them mad cow disease. They shouldn’t be. I noted in an earlier post that approximately one in 35 million cows slaughtered in the U.S. have mad cow disease. Those odds are negligible; our food supply is safe.

If people still want to be scared, that is their right. No one should force them to buy U.S. beef. But why do they want to take that option away from people who don’t frighten so easily? Especially when $20 billion of increased trade is at stake?