John Reddington, vice president of International Trade for the American Meat Institute (AMI) said: ‘the seeds of the current debacle were sown through Internet rumours spread by a pair of South Korean teenagers. This started with a couple of high school bloggers who used misinformation that was picked up by other school kids, by the school teachers’ union.’
Meanwhile, the anticipated increase in slaughter and, therefore, hides, is not about to happen any time soon. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has said that he would not re-negotiate a deal on US beef imports despite the massive protests and a sharp decline in his popularity ratings.
Lee said bartering for a revised beef deal would jeopardize a free-trade agreement with the United States. His campaign for the presidency was largely based on economic reform. ‘If we now demand a re-negotiation, that will cause major problems like a trade dispute’, Lee was quoted as saying by his spokesman, according to Agence France Presse. ‘That may seriously affect exports of our products. By knowing well about such an after-effect, we cannot demand re-negotiation just to get through the current crisis.’
Major US beef processors have offered to label shipments to South Kora to indicate the age of cattle at the time of slaughter in order to rebuild confidence in their product. In a joint news release, Smithfield Beef Group, Tyson Foods Inc, Cargill Meat Solutions, JBS-Swift & Co and National Beef Packing Co, said the special labels would indicate whether the cattle they slaughtered were younger or older than 30 months. The labels will be used for up to 120 days.