South Korean Agribusiness and Premeditated Cruelty

This is case study of how governments and agribusinesses put profit above animal welfare and cannot be depended upon to ensure proper standards are met. The failure to comply with standards occurs daily around the world in slaughterhouses, on factory farms, and in testing facilities.

This example concerns a massive culling operation in South Korea that began on November 29, 2010 and ended March 2011. It entailed all manner of incompetence, standards violations, and moral failings from beginning to end. Korea is not alone in such failures, but this example serves as a wake up to the disregard for animal suffering by governments and meat industries that goes on everywhere.[1]For an insight into US failures it well worth reading Michael Moss, “U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit: Animal Welfare at Risk in Experiments for Meat Industry,” New York Times, Jan. 19, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/20/dining/animal-welfare-at-risk-in-experiments-for-meat-industry.html.

Economy Before Ethics

The Korean government buries animals alive during culls and it has been doing it for over a decade at least. People around the world were startled back in 2002, when the picture below appeared in the press showing a Korean man kicking piglets off the back of a truck into a huge pit, where they were to be buried alive.

Live piglets thrown in hole in Ansung

Why is this kind of thing still happening? The Korean government has no excuse. It has had so much experience with disease outbreaks—they’re practically annual events. Yet the government continues to cull animals in the most brutal and cruel ways, as if it has learned nothing at all. This is hard to understand when Korea is the 13th largest economy in the world. Why is preparedness not built into Korea’s agricultural practices? The horrible truth appears to be that the Korean government sees bury animals alive at a moment’s notice as a quick, cheap, and easy method to control disease. It is unwritten government policy.

All kinds of animals are buried, from pigs to deer to cattle to dogs to chickens to ducks—bagged or not—dead or alive, but mostly alive. Usually they are dumped or shoved into pits dug next to their former factory farm sheds.

Nearly all pigs and birds come from factory farms. Cattle are raised in sheds, and while not as bad as factory farms—the cattle do breath open air and see daylight—they are nonetheless confined to tiny corals in this small land of mountainous terrain. If disease strikes, the speed with which it spreads is not surprising.

Outbreak of the Largest Cull in Korean History

On November 29, 2010, the Korean government announced a foot-and-mouth (FMD) outbreak. This was alarming, not just because of the threat to agribusinesses, but because it was the 3rd foot-and-mouth outbreak of that year. Two had already occurred in January and March, in which 56,000 animals were killed. The Korean government had plenty of time to prepare for another outbreak in 2010, plenty of time to establish humane standard operation procedures for culls. But apparently no one gave it a thought.

No one had a clue either, that the worst FMD disaster in Korean history—something that was inevitable—was about to hit. Government officials began the standard inept and barbaric procedures of gathering animals up, dumping them in large pits alive, covering them over with dirt, and thus violating World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines.

Included in this incompetent response was the avoidance of vaccinating. While animal welfare groups called on the government to vaccinate, pleading with it to begin as soon as possible, it ignored them in favor of stumbling along, burying pigs alive, and using the paralyzing drug succinyl choline on cattle.

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Why would it behave so negligently? For one thing, it wanted to retain level one OIE status—that is to say, free of disease without vaccination. To keep this status, the Korean government deliberately gambled with hundreds of thousands of animal lives by not vaccinating. It is ironic that while flagrantly ignoring its responsibilities as an OIE member, this government eagerly sought to keep and benefit from OIE’s level one status.

As summarized in the Korea Herald, Jan. 9, 2011: “It takes longer for a country that uses vaccinations to regain disease-free status from the World Organization for Animal Health than when the disease is curbed solely by culling.”[2]http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20110109000326&mod=skb.

Burying animals alive was also the quick and easy default response. Everyone knew the ropes—no one had to use initiative or deviate, no one had to make any hard decisions. Everyone thought they could get away with it on the cheap, just like in the past. But the gamble didn’t pay off as it had in the past and the disease spiraled out of control.

It was not until Christmas day, 2010, nearly a month after the FMD outbreak was announced, that the government conceded it would have to accept second level OIE status—free of disease with vaccination—and begin vaccinating. It had no choice, what with FMD spreading all over the country. But there was a problem. Substantial vaccination stocks were not on hand, as they had not been imported in good time. So now imports needed to be stepped up, but it was way too late.

huge-pig-cull

The tally as a result of incompetence at this point was nearly a million pigs buried alive. And that was going to double before long because, amazingly, the decision to vaccinate did not include pigs.

So even after Christmas day, 100% of pigs were still being buried alive. The decision to vaccinate pigs did not come until January 7. By then, authorities were killing up to 100,000 animals a day—most of them still buried alive.

The euthanasia drug being used was predominantly for cattle. Called succinyl choline, it ran out on December 29, 2010, one month after the disease broke. At that point the government started burying cattle alive too, until more succinyl choline arrived.

Then at the beginning of 2011, another disease began spreading across the country—avian influenza (AI). Now there were two massive culling operations under way following the same default pattern. All birds—all chickens and ducks—it hardly needs to be said, were buried alive.

duck_cull

Less than three months from the FMD outbreak, the statistics give an idea of the scale of the carnage, though hardly an idea of the cruelty and suffering incurred. As of February 24, around 3,416,792 animals were slaughtered with around 95% buried alive. That is, all 3,256,170 pigs (around 95% of the total animals culled and 33% of all pigs in the country) were buried alive. Over 6,000 goats and over 3,000 deer were culled. Cattle numbers stood at 150,823, with many of those killed using the totally unacceptable succinyl choline as a euthanasia drug.

Reports even came in of 60 dogs killed, even though dogs are not actually affected by the disease. They were buried alive too along with other animals (the farmer, of course, knew he would be compensated generously by including them in the cull).

Meanwhile, the total number of victims of the AI cull was reaching an even larger total of 5,454,895 dead. The birds were sometimes buried in sacks and sometimes, in the case of ducks, just herded into a pit and buried.

Altogether, from November 2010 to February 9, 2011, around ten million animals were culled in Korea because of outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and avian influenza.

OIE Guidelines Ignored

As mentioned, two primary means of culling were used: cattle were injected with the neuromuscular paralyzing agent succinyl choline and then buried. Pigs and fowl were buried alive. Both of these methods, the live burials of animals and the use of succinyl choline, cause severe distress and suffering. Both methods are patently inappropriate for culling and both are in violation of international standards.

Based on OIE guidelines,[3]Killing of animals for disease control purposes, Article 3.7.6.1.) The welfare of animals being culled shall be ensured until they are dead. As a member of the OIE, Korea’s burying of pigs (and other animals) alive is in violation of the international guidelines and a procedure that is torturous, cruel and immoral.

In relation, on January 27, 2011, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Juan Lubroth, stated that when countries have to deal with an outbreak of FMD, they “should adhere to accepted practices that adequately take animal welfare and environmental impacts into account.”[4]Foot-and-Mouth Disease in South Korea signals regional risk 27-01-2011. Coordinated, multinational response required: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/50098/icode/.

The OIE guidelines also state that when animals are “killed for disease control purposes, the methods used to kill animals should result in immediate death,” and everything must be done to “ensure the welfare of the animals until they are dead.”[5]Killing of Animals for Disease Control Purpose, OIE-Terrestrial Animal Health Code, Article 3.7.6.1. The methods used must “result in immediate death or immediate loss of consciousness” (for example, by gunshot or electrocution) and should not cause prolonged “distress or suffering.”[6]AVMA Guideline on Euthanasia (AVMA, 2007)

The Korean government was fully aware of all of these recommendations as an OIE member. It chose to ignore them. Not only that, it chose to ignore the reminders and pleadings of groups within Korea not to shirk its responsibilities. Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA), for one, officially asked the government to vaccinate animals and stop live burials as early as 10 December, 2010. Only when the disease showed no sign of abating, not until 23 December, did the government decided to vaccinate severely affected areas. It was not until 25 December that it began wider vaccinations. It was of course much too late by then and in any case the vaccination did not include pigs, so 100% of pigs were still buried alive.

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Culling that does not result in instant loss of consciousness and that causes suffering in animals cannot be considered humane euthanasia and is in direct violation of FAO and OIE recommendations. The amount of cruelty and suffering that went on is probably beyond most peoples’ imaginations.

Scenes On the Ground

How do you burying animals alive? A lot quicker and cheaper and with less effort than killing them any other way. Pigs in the back of trucks are simply tipped into a pit. These animals, many fully grown, fall up to 4-6 meters into the hole only to have other pigs landing on top of them. We can assume that many are injured, perhaps with broken bones, or killed in the process. Hundreds of pigs are crammed into the same hole. At other times pigs are herded near holes, then pushed in with the arms of the excavator that had dug their graves.

Pigs are piled in, layer upon layer, the pigs below suffocating from those on top. All the while, for the whole time, the pigs screaming a cacophony of terror.

One official recounted his experience on his unofficial blog, citing the shrill screams of the pigs in pain from being crushed that echoed and resounded throughout the hills. Hu Duk Ryu of the Democratic Party had volunteered to help with the culling on December 8, 2010 at a remote farm near a village in the Paju area. He helped bury 1200 pigs alive. Such was the shortage of personnel, even the mayor was volunteering, he said.

Ryu found it hardest to collect the condemned piglets, who were bagged and thrown in the back of trucks. Five or six would be squeezed into a bag and they would struggle to escape through any hole, the material cutting into their skins, or bags would break pigs would struggle out squealing. “I cannot erase the remorse I felt in my heart while doing this,” Ryu says, and “I thought to myself, What in the world are we doing?”[7]http://www.imaeil.com/sub_news/sub_news_view.php?news_id=953&yy=2011#axzz3Ly3SG6eN

Reportedly, when strong and desperate pigs tried to escape the pits, excavator operates used their machine’s arms to push them back. Sometimes this was violently done and pigs were crushed or had their heads split open. Other pigs who had succumbed to disease could not be herded to the pits and lay motionless in their stalls. These downers were shocked with electric prods to get them moving or dragged along with steel nooses tied about their snouts. It was reported in the media that witnesses saw the bellies of some split open, the insides falling out, as they were dragged along.

paju-cull1 paju-cull2 paju-cull3

It wasn’t only animals that suffered through this horrific culling ordeal. People assigned to cull animals experienced loss of appetite, depression, and psychological problems because of the horrors they had seen. Some people cannot forget the cries of the animals and had difficulty in carrying out the work. About 10 percent of workers were so severely traumatized that they needed professional psychiatric help, according to a spokesperson from the Goyang Community Mental Health Center. Makeshift psychological counseling centers were set up. Although they were compensated generously, farmers received counseling as well, but for a few of them it was all too much and they committed suicide.

In response to the massive cull, a new Korean law for the prevention of infectious diseases among livestock animals was passed on January 2011, and in article 49 it states that psychological help should be provided “to farmers and to personnel working on culling operations who experience mental duress and distress.” However, there was no mention of consideration for the distress and suffering of animals that choked to death while paralyzed by succinyl choline or were buried alive. It is because of this neglect of animal welfare that farmers and cull workers witness horrific suffering in the first place and consequently had a need for psychological help. If animals were euthanized humanely, it would be less traumatic for all involved.

As the cull went on, residents in Paju, an area north of Seoul, starting reporting bloody water coming through water taps in their home.[8]http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/01/117_79094.html. The body fluids of thousands of dead animals were seeping into the ground water. As far back as December, in the early days, when everyone was more interested in hastily burying animals alive more than anything else, some foresaw future contamination problems. Hu Duk Ryu, the politician blogger, states in his blog he was fully aware that fluids animals buried alive would leach into the ground. At the site, he recollects how an excavator operator had challenged him, saying that the hasty burial of the pigs would present a future pollution problem.

What will it be like in summer, Ryu wondered, since thousands of livestock animals were being buried alive near creeks. It was not just that: he was alarmed at the preparations for burial: the plastic sheeting used to line the pits could not withstand the struggles of 100 to 250 kilo pigs thrashing about in a desperate struggle to survive. As Ryu observed, the water-proof plastic lining tore into pieces in no time. It was useless.

pig_cull

Around 63,500 tons of leachate was expected to seep from the bodies of millions of buried corpses. As part of its pollution containment strategy, the Korean government took a census of 4,054 FMD burial sites and 197 AI burial sites later in March.

Meanwhile, the media conducted its own surveys, showing video and pictures of burial sites, the earth of some now concave and sunken, where rusty colored fluids are shown to have gathered. Others show macabre images of animals emerging from the earth, their resurrected corpses contorted and frozen in their last terrified throes. They were pushed up by the force of huge amounts of gas generated in their pits by hundreds of their fellow dead. There, at the surface, wild animals fed on them or drag them away. So much, then, for biosecurity.

The horrors of the culling operations, their effects on people pushed to mental limits, the pollution seeping into the countryside, bodies rising from the earth—it was like a surreal nightmare unfolding out in the Korean countryside.

Not For Euthanasia: Succinyl Choline

The majority of cattle at other sites were not buried alive, but this did not save them from suffering and another kind of hideous cruelty that can only be described as torture—being injected with the paralyzing agent succinyl choline that gave them instant locked-in syndrome, where one minute they are normal and the next their legs begin to tremble and give way, and they collapse into a state of paralysis while remaining fully conscious.

A kill team in Hoengsung, Gangwon Province will never forgot what it saw one day, when a mother cow was injected with succinyl choline. As she was succumbing to the effects of the drug, her new-born calf approached and cried for milk. The workers could hardly believe what happened next. The cow suckled her baby, trying to remain upright, her legs trembling—for between 2 to 3 minutes this continued through sheer will, well beyond the time it would have normally taken for a cow to collapse. Only after her calf had finished did the mother finally collapse to the ground, as the calf, oblivious to what was happening, hovered near her paralyzed body. Heartbreaking. Later, the calf was killed too and buried beside the mother.

Tons of succinyl choline ampules were imported from China for use in Korea. However, there were reports on January 14 that the imported version of the drug was not as effective and veterinarians were frustrated when faced with using it. Animals were taking up to an hour to die. Using that drug causes a kind of slow chocking death. The animal is conscious all the while but paralyzed as it endures a slow and tortuous asphyxiation. This clearly constitutes animal abuse and further violates FAO and OIE guidelines.

It must be stressed here that every expert—outside of Korea, that is—will say succinyl choline should not be used for euthanasia. Even the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Euthanasia Guidelines, revised in 2007, condemns the use of neuromuscular blocking agents such as succinyl choline as a euthanasia drug. Yet contrary to the experts and to FAO and OIE animal-welfare standards, Korea used the drug exclusively.

What succinyl choline does is paralyze the muscles yet leaves the animal fully conscious and aware of its surroundings. It suffocates to death slowly while choking on the saliva pooling in its throat. Ever held your breath? Ever desperately wanted to swallow but couldn’t? Try doing both together. The Humane Society International explains why it opposes the use of succinyl choline:

Neuromuscular blocking agents produce death by respiratory paralysis in a completely conscious being. The animal is fully aware of the gradual loss of muscular function that occurs following administration of the drug, an experience that undoubtedly causes alarm and distress. The animal then gradually suffocates due to paralysis of the intercostal-diaphragmatic muscles, which regulate breathing. Succinylcholine is particularly aversive, because it additionally causes the simultaneous contraction of all skeletal muscles in the body and this is known (in humans) to be a painful experience. But whichever skeletal muscle relaxant is used, death is prolonged and painful, essentially through asphyxiation. The US Department of Agriculture regulations for laboratory animals condemns the use of neuromuscular blocking agents without general anesthesia. The use of neuromuscular blocking agents alone without prior anesthesia to render the animal unconscious cannot be considered an acceptable method of euthanasia in any species.

And Canadians for Ethical Treatment of Food Animals similarly stated the following in its online campaign against Korea’s inhumane culling methods:

Succinyl choline … leaves animals fully conscious and aware of their surroundings. The animals … slowly suffocate due to paralysis of their breathing muscles while saliva pools in their throat due to lack of functional swallowing muscles. In short, the drug causes the animals to slowly suffocate to death while choking … we can deduce that Korean officials plan to continue using this inhumane means of killing.[9]Olivier Berreville, Ph.D. Scientific Advisor, January 31, 2011, CETFA online campaign.

This was the fate of that cow struggling to stay upright for her calf. No one could deny that better methods of culling should be used instead of succinyl choline and live burials. In the case of large animals, such as pigs and cattle, captive bolts, electrocution, or proper euthanasia drugs should be used. If drugs are employed, then it is best to use sodium pentobarbital via intravenous injection. If any toxic drugs are used, they should only be administered after the animal is completely anesthetized. In the case of fowls, CO2 or electric water stunning should be used, so that they are quickly killed before burial.

It is incredible that Korea, as a modern society, still insists on burying animals alive and using inadequate and cruel drugs in culls. In 2010, the Japanese city of Miyazaki was also faced with foot-and-mouth disease and mass culling, but in contrast to Korea, it first anesthetized cattle and sows with Xylazine and after that gave a lethal injection. In the case of regular pigs, they used electrocution. With respect to fowl, other countries have used firefighter’s CO2 foam for culling chickens and sodium pentobarbital for geese and ducks. These methods are in line with more progressive thinking on culling, with animal welfare in mind, and in keeping with procedures that have been practiced in Europe for many years.

Not everyone in Korea was ignorant that succinyl choline was totally unacceptable for euthanasia. A spokesperson for Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) stated in the media at the time of the cull that “The media should not be referring to succinyl choline as a euthanasia drug because this is misinformation. The public deserves to know the truth.” The spokesperson explained in no uncertain terms how inappropriate this drug is:

The use of succinyl choline on its own without anesthesia is a serious case of animal abuse. As a member of the OIE, Korea signed an agreement stating that it would care for the welfare of the animals during culls according to OIE standards. But Korean authorities disregarded that and instead buried animals alive or kill them with the paralysis and suffocation caused by succinyl choline.

Most people would agree that it is cruel and immoral to use paralyzing drugs and live animal burials. The Korean government needs to demonstrate it has the will to make changes and show that it cares about the animal welfare. It should begin complying with international standards and training personnel in the use of proper culling equipment, such as electrocution devices and CO2 chambers, and in the supply and use of proper euthanasia drugs.

The OIE guidelines are specific on animal suffering and Korean has signed on as an OIE member. It should be obeying the rules like everyone else.

Official Bumbling and Political Spin

News of all of this massive cull and its cruelties was slow to get out the country. Korean language news sources abounded with official and damning reports. English news sources were less forthcoming, keeping things in general terms while the odd editorial appeared with the usual shrugging argument of the lazy apologist, along the lines of “what was done had to be done.”

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International condemnation came late but when it did the Korean government handled that too with a kind of naive plodding and miscalculation. Consulates that received letters of concern and condemnation issued standard replies with all the spin you would expect of political expediency and an organization hoping to cover its tracks. Here’s part of reply from the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Toronto:

With regard to your concern, we would like to inform you with some details on the viewpoint of the Korean government, and we hope this would help towards your understanding.

[…]

In accordance with the mentioned provisions and the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code (Chapter 7.6), any livestock carrying infectious disease agents are being buried or incinerated after being destroyed
through such means as the free bullet, electrocution, mechanical blow, or lethal injection.

In general, the Korean Government is burying livestock after killing them through mechanical blow or lethal injection in the case of cattle and electrocution or lethal injection in the case of pigs.

Unfortunately, due to the rapid spread of FMD, there might have been cases in some areas in which the execution of the livestock was not conducted thoroughly and therefore resulted in the infliction of pain to the livestock.

In regard to this, the Korean Government will actively and continuously remind the local governments to conform to the established provisions in the “SOP”. The government will also ensure that the livestock are properly destroyed in compliance with the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code.

Yes, you could call it lying. Little comfort comes from knowing the Korean government was aware of its OIE obligations. Even less comfort is the expression “in general” because nothing could be further from the reality on the ground. And then there’s the excuse of the “rapid spread of FMD,” when the government had seven months after the last FMD outbreak in April 2010 to actually prepare for the next and put humane measures in place.

Then we have the finger pointing at anonymous local authorities, who coincidentally all decided to bury animals alive. Of course, this is what they have been doing for over a decade. There was every indication it in conformity to established policy. It was not, as one government spokesperson said, just local officials acting alone.[10]”South Korea Claiming Upper Hand in Farm Battle Against Foot-and-Mouth Disease,” Voice of America, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/South-Korea-Claiming-Upper-Hand-in-Farm-Battle-Against-Foot-and-Mouth-Disease-113871474.html.

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As for the “established provisions” in Korea’s Standard Operating Practice, if anyone looked they would find that there are none that mention humane FMD culling! But the systematic cruelties practiced by the Korean government are most certainly covered in Article 11 of Korea’s Animal Protection Law, which states that when animals are culled their suffering must be minimized.

There are a couple of problems here typical of these limp and minimal animal laws, apparently cobbled together for lip-service. The idea of “minimized” is vague and subject to interpretation. Worse still, the law makes no mention of punishment for violations. You couldn’t even charge the government with a crime of live burial and there is no penalty for it, anyway.

It is not just the transparency of the lies that is insulting, it’s the presumption that the international community would be such credulous dupes as to believe them all. And the themes of incompetence and unprepared fumbling do not end here. The LA Times reports that Korean “Government officials deny any cruelty but admit a shortage of drugs has led to some live burials.” A shortage, yes, but in the case of drugs for pigs were rarely used, so rarely in fact that if you round up the statistics by a fraction, 100% of all pigs were buried alive—that’s over 3.25 million. One civil servant said they attempted to give pigs lethal injections before they were buried, but in the cold weather, the drugs froze and couldn’t be used. They had no choice then but live burial.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied, so the old adage goes, and you could equally apply that to the spin and dodging of Korean politicians. Korea’s former Minister for Agriculture, Jeongbok Yoo, the man at the helm of the culling disaster had this to say in an interview on a CNN report aired on March 3, 2011: “I cannot confirm whether there were regions that had a shortage in the euthanasia drug or if they buried the animals alive.” Don’t believe it until it is officially dodged! It’s hardly conceivable that Mr. Yoo was as ill-informed and ignorant about what is going on as the Consulate Generals far away in overseas Korean embassies.

To be fair, Mr. Yoo did concede a regrettable deviance, which he remarked upon with a kind of neutral simplicity, as if recounting a rumor: “I also heard that in some cases even after being injected with the drug, the pigs didn’t die right away.” No, and the reason is that succinyl choline was being used—a drug which should never be used for euthanasia alone—and which is known not to kill right away because it is a paralyzing agent. No wonder animals were not dying quickly.

In the CNN interview, Minister Yoo assured that

There are no confirmed cases of fluids contaminating underground water or leaking into the water supply because there were no animals buried near the preserved water supply area.

Given this official denial, the opposite must be true. And so it was. It came after news reports of bloody water coming out of peoples’ taps in Paju, of country folk elsewhere forced to fill water buckets at neighbors’ unaffected by local culls, and of hikes in the sales of bottled water by people fearful of what their home drinking water might contain.

Hu Duk Ryu, the politician who had noted details of a live burial in his unofficial blog, believed that a contributing factor to the delays in finding suitable burials sites was the military. The military would not give up its land for burials, nor for that matter would members of the public revolted by the thought of their land being used for mass killing.

Delays in finding burials sites, which were frustrating officials everywhere, were a serious issue for the spread of disease, too. The farmer whose pigs were being culled told Rye that the delay in finding a burial site was the reason so many of his pigs were in advances stages of sickness. More and more pigs were downed with each passing day. He said if the delay had been longer, Ryu and other volunteers would have been forced to drag out all pigs one by one by noose—a task next to impossible to do in one day.

A Culture of Negligence and Inaction

The Korean government lurched from one disaster to another during the 2010-2011 cull, doing just about everything wrong that could be done wrong. What is extraordinary, however, is that some government officials, professionals, and even citizens groups agreed with cull policies and voiced opposition against using vaccines. With such opposition in favor of cruel culling methods, these heartless people along with the Korean government make Korea look backward and incompetent in the eyes of the world.

It is not as if no help was offered. Animal welfare groups in Korean were lobby the government right from the beginning of the cull to begin vaccinations as soon as possible. They pleaded and continue to plead for humane methods of culling, asking the government to seek help from overseas experts and not stubbornly stick to old ways. They have protested for common sense, for example, not to cull perfectly healthy pigs when only days away from possible vaccination—and that was actually happening. They have offered all the support they can and yet were met with inhibiting recalcitrance and resistance that comes with the face-saving bloody-mindedness of bureaucrats. As Lee Won-bak, president of the Korea Association for Animal Protection (KAAP) noted

We’ve demanded the government to stop the live burial of animals since 2000 when FMD first broke out here. But it has been totally ignored. The biggest problem is that the government has no will whatsoever to correct that.[11]http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/01/117_79769.html

The Korean government is to blame for the culling disaster because of its lack of proper preventative measures and lack of preparedness for humane culling. Its response is to bury animals alive by default is simply not acceptable. It has a history of putting economics before ethical considerations and this was demonstrated once again in this terrible cull. Korea’s animal welfare record lags behind the rest of the modern world and it is not improving. It cannot expect to call itself a modern and humane society as long as it’s government is committed to pursuing barbaric practices.

Much of what was seen during the cull was premeditated mass cruelty, but not so much out evil intent. Sufficiently advanced stupidity, it has been observed, is indistinguishable from malevolence. Is it really so hard? Provide appropriate culling methods in accordance with the guidelines and standards of the OIE. Never use succinyl choline on individual animals without anesthesia and never call succinyl choline a euthanasia drug in media releases. Stockpile instead adequate supplies of sodium pentobarbital. Draw up a proper Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for foot-and-mouth disease, detailed culling methods appropriate for each animal. All personnel involved in culling operations must be properly trained in the use of culling equipment and in the administering of lethal injections so that no animals suffer.

Follow these prescriptions and we will not see again the nightmarish cruelty and suffering on a massive scale as we have seen in Korea from November 29, 2010, to the March 2011. No more terrified animals, wrenched from awful concrete factory farms, only to experience life outdoors for the first time in a hellish writhing mass of flesh at the bottom of a pit. Apart from the cruelty and immorality, it simply does not become us as species to be behaving this way—it demeans us all to see what was done in Korea.

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Click for Random News Sources List - Late Dec. 2010 to Late Jan. 2011

Notes   [ + ]

1. For an insight into US failures it well worth reading Michael Moss, “U.S. Research Lab Lets Livestock Suffer in Quest for Profit: Animal Welfare at Risk in Experiments for Meat Industry,” New York Times, Jan. 19, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/20/dining/animal-welfare-at-risk-in-experiments-for-meat-industry.html.
2. http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20110109000326&mod=skb.
3. Killing of animals for disease control purposes, Article 3.7.6.1.)
4. Foot-and-Mouth Disease in South Korea signals regional risk 27-01-2011. Coordinated, multinational response required: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/50098/icode/.
5. Killing of Animals for Disease Control Purpose, OIE-Terrestrial Animal Health Code, Article 3.7.6.1.
6. AVMA Guideline on Euthanasia (AVMA, 2007)
7. http://www.imaeil.com/sub_news/sub_news_view.php?news_id=953&yy=2011#axzz3Ly3SG6eN
8. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/01/117_79094.html.
9. Olivier Berreville, Ph.D. Scientific Advisor, January 31, 2011, CETFA online campaign.
10. ”South Korea Claiming Upper Hand in Farm Battle Against Foot-and-Mouth Disease,” Voice of America, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/South-Korea-Claiming-Upper-Hand-in-Farm-Battle-Against-Foot-and-Mouth-Disease-113871474.html.
11. http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2011/01/117_79769.html

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