SEOUL, Aug. 22 (Korea Bizwire) – In the wake of South Korea’s pesticide egg scandal, popular unrest and indignation has fomented a change in attitudes that may not have been possible in ordinary times.
As of the date of this article, none other than the president has spoken out about the need for reform. Reform in overall policy, regulations, and processing of livestock have all been called for, but what has been noteworthy is that the call for improved “animal welfare” has been echoed across every level of Korean society.
The social phenomenon can be observed at the consumer level, where shoppers are voting with their wallets. An employee at a major supermarket chain stated, “Despite organic eggs being about twice the price of regular eggs, there has been twice as much interest in the former than previously.”
The reason behind the preference for organic eggs is related to the lifestyle of the egg laying hens. The chickens are “grass-fed” by leaving them in the open, and no pesticides and chemicals of any kind are used on or around the chickens.
Some farms use pesticides to remove ticks on the hens, but organic farms instead provide enough space for the birds to use instinct and dirt to get rid of the bothersome insects.
As the consternation over the contaminated eggs lingers on, the industry expects interest in organic eggs to continue to grow. Major retailer Lotte Mart reported that it has already seen an impact on its sales as revenues from organic eggs have increased by 20 percent compared to before the scandal. That can only be good news for organic farmers, animal rights, and of course the animals themselves.
Changes are afoot at the provincial level as well. Gyeonggi Provincial Government announced on August 21 that an amendment specifying the implementation of policies concerning the husbandry of livestock was announced last Friday.
The policies are outlined in an ordinance titled “Accreditation for Happy Livestock Farms in Gyeonggi” that was prepared by the provincial government starting last month.
For a farm to be accredited as a “Happy Livestock Farm”, strict regulations must be abided by.
For example, nine chickens must be given a minimum 1 square meter of yard. For egg laying hens, there must be 0.05 square meters of space in the coop per bird.
Using this method of accreditation, the province expects to see the first successful launch of a “Happy Livestock Farm” beginning this coming October.
In another province, North Chungcheong governor Lee Si Jong called for efforts to create organic farms in a committee meeting on August 21, saying, “Unlike avian influenza which is a fight against a virus that can’t be seen, the problem of the ‘pesticide eggs’ is one that can be prevented to a certain degree if we can gain the cooperation of farmers.”
He referenced the province’s continued requests to the national government for financial assistance for livestock farmers, insisting that the funds could be invested into creating organic farms that would reduce the risk of situations like the pesticide eggs crisis.
And finally, the national level. On August 21, the president apologized for the concern that the eggs scandal has caused and promised rapid reforms. Then, like seemingly every other Korean nowadays, he mentioned the need for improved animal welfare. “I hope that there will be greater inspection into the environment in which animals are raised, including aspects like animal welfare and sanitation levels of livestock,” he declared.