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Posts Tagged ‘News’

FMD and Animal Rights

I just got a call from my friend again and sadly, there isn’t much good news. The FMD situation in Andong seems to have gotten worse as it has spread into other provinces. People are discouraged from traveling into and out of Andong. Even a small event such as an annual graduation trip for middle school students was cancelled due to travel restrictions, so the students took their trip to a movie theater instead. While the farmers are especially hard-hit by the outbreak of FMD, everyone in Andong has been affected in some way. People from Andong are not readily welcomed into other places because of the threat of carrying the FMD into other areas. Many kinds of produce and other products from Andong are rejected for transport. It’s hard to know how long these effects will last even after the disease has been contained.

Some of the measures cities and provinces have taken to curb the spread of FMD include car sterilization sprays and UV ray booths, both of which I’ve passed through a few times. Sterilization posts have been placed near toll booths and other sites throughout the affected provinces. Cars pass through and drive over a spray of sterilizing liquid, similar to going through a car wash. As for UV ray booths, people enter the green-colored booths and get blasted with bacteria-killing UV rays. I don’t know much about that kind of thing, so I wonder how effective it is.

They’ve also started vaccinating the cattle to prevent them from contracting FMD. Hopefully it will help to stop the spread of FMD into other areas and spare more livestock from having to be killed.

I have a some final comments to add regarding ‘animal cruelty.’ There have been protests and campaigns against the method of killing the pigs and cows to prevent the spread of FMD. Many from outside of Korea. I am also critical of some of the methods of extermination, such as burying cows and pigs alive. However, it is ignorant to generalize and condemn ‘Korea,’  ‘Koreans’ or ‘Korean culture’  based on a simplistic understanding of how the FMD epidemic has been reported. In many cases, people from the outside are quick to criticize these actions without a proper understanding of the severity of the epidemic or of the decision-making process that took place. I agree that there are more humane ways to fight the spread of FMD. But, making statements like “Koreans, like the Chinese, have a culture of being cruel to animals” are not productive and are flat out racist.

Lastly, my primary concern is the effect this situation will have on the farmers and people of Andong who are most affected by the situation and must live through this ordeal every day. We on the outside should provide our support and sympathy instead of criticism or contempt.

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Last Sunday, I was planning on going to Andong to visit a friend. Unfortunately, I had a fever the night before after running around in the cold competing in Daegu’s Amazing Race. Lots of fun but definitely too cold for me to handle. I was still planning on going to Andong until I got a call from my friend early that morning suggesting that I postpone my trip. I told her that I wanted to go even though I was feeling sick, but that wasn’t the main reason that she called.

For the past few weeks, Andong has been battling an outbreak of foot and mouth disease among its pigs and cows. This is the worst epidemic of FMD in Korea thus far. From what I’ve heard, some people came back to Andong from a trip to Vietnam and inadvertently spread the disease. One of the alleged carriers already fled the city to escape punishment.

In order to curb the spread of the disease, farmers and other public officers are responsible for killing the infected cows and pigs. They’ve been ordered to get rid of thousands of infected animals before the FMD spreads further. It’s a very difficult job because of the number of livestock they have to exterminate and also because it must be a harrowing experience for the people carrying out the exterminations. For example, they can still hear some pigs squealing and trying to escape even after they’ve been buried. My friend has a friend that has to participate in the quarantine efforts and s/he said that the city has also provided quarantine officials with counseling since many seem to be suffering from mental and emotional trauma.

It has been especially difficult for farmers and people that buy or sell beef and pork products. People are really worried about how this will affect them in the long run. The farmers not only face economic hardship, but also the emotional pain of having to see their livestock exterminated. My friend told me that some very old farmers even tried to kill themselves because of the dire situation. It’s really a tragic situation in Andong.

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