Mad-Cow Disease and Politics in International Economic Law - A Korean Experience for the World

21 Pages Posted: 4 Jul 2010

See all articles by Won-Mog Choi

Won-Mog Choi

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: July 2, 2010


The health and food safety policy of every nation must be designed and implemented to maintain a balance between the goals of trade liberalization and protection of health and food safety. Problems arise, however, because occasionally this mutually amicable path of trade and health policies falls into disarray as demonstrated by the recent Mad-cow beef struggles in Korea. This struggle demonstrates how badly a legitimate trade liberalization effort could go in disarray if there is a lack of consensus-building process inside the domestic politics. It also shows how deeply domestic politics may creep into trade policies in a situation of unbalance of power between interest groups.

Serious and continuous procedural steps must be taken with active communication with the general public so as to minimize unnecessary political struggles that may be caused by misinformation and consumer anxiety. Without building consumer confidence in domestic politics, any international principles of scientific basis or international standards could only build a house of cards. For the shaping of integrated trade and health policies in a highly political environment, societies need to maintain a high-level health and food safety management system. This can also stabilize the long-term trading system with the world on an overall balance of interest between domestic producers and consumers.

Presented at the SIEL 2010 Conference in Barcelona.

Keywords: Trade and Health Policies, Mad-cow Disease, Korean trade policy, Korean beef struggles, SPS Agreement, Korea-US Beef Dispute, Korea-Canada Beef Dispute

JEL Classification: F02, F10, F13, F14, Q17

Suggested Citation

Choi, Won-Mog, Mad-Cow Disease and Politics in International Economic Law - A Korean Experience for the World (July 2, 2010). Society of International Economic Law (SIEL), Second Biennial Global Conference, University of Barcelona, July 8-10, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Won-Mog Choi (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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