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The Washington Post this morning reports that South Korean president Lee Myung-bak has retreated from his pledge to open his nation’s borders to US meat imports; the change of mind occurred because of public concerns there that such a move would increase the risk of mad cow disease in South Korea.

According to the Post, the South Korean government “asked the United States on Tuesday to refrain from shipping beef from animals that were more than 30 months old at the time of slaughter, which many people here believe raises the risk of mad cow infection. Until the U.S. government complies, it appears that all beef imports will remain on hold.”

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