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Other Aspects of BSE Issues in East Asian Countries

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Abstract

Scientific risk estimates of BSE can be the same internationally; however, socioeconomic backgrounds, such as food supply (e.g., beef import status) and dietary life, are different between East Asian countries (i.e., in this article, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan) and Western countries, which may account for differences in risk perception of people. Since political and social backgrounds also differ among these East Asian countries, they will also influence people's attitudes toward food safety. Psychological factors such as “dread” and the “unknown” are considered to be important in risk perception, but socioeconomic, and in some cases political, situations (e.g., attitudes of politicians and political pressures in trade) may strongly influence the perception and acceptance of various risks by citizens. With regard to the BSE issues, latter aspects may contribute a lot to risk perception, but have not been examined in depth until now. Although protection of health is the key element to food safety, sometimes business factors can overwhelm safety issues in international trade. Appropriate risk governance in food safety issues, such as BSE, can be attained not only through application of outputs of scientific assessment, but also through deliberation of various aspects, that may have strong influence on people's risk perception, and improved communication among stakeholders and also among countries.

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