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South Korea passes law banning dog meat trade

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The slaughter and sale of dogs for their meat is to become illegal in South Korea after MPs backed a new law.

The legislation, set to come into force by 2027, aims to end the centuries-old practice of humans eating dog meat.

Dog meat stew, called “boshintang”, is considered a delicacy among some older South Koreans, but the meat has fallen out of favour with diners and is no longer popular with young people.

Under the new law the consumption of dog meat itself will not be illegal.

According to a Gallup poll last year, only 8% of people said they had tried dog meat in the past 12 months, down from 27% in 2015. Fewer than a fifth of those polled said they supported the consumption of the meat.

Lee Chae-yeon, a 22-year-old student, said the ban was necessary to promote animal rights. “More people have pets today,” she told the BBC in Seoul. “Dogs are like family now and it’s not nice to eat our family.”

The new law focuses on the dog meat trade – those convicted of butchering dogs face up to three years in prison, while people found guilty of raising dogs for meat or selling dog meat could serve a maximum of two years.

Farmers and restaurant owners have three years to find alternative sources of employment and income before the legislation comes into force.

According to government statistics, South Korea had around 1,600 dog meat restaurants and 1,150 dog farms in 2023, all of which will now have to submit a plan to phase out their businesses to their local authorities.

The government has promised to fully support dog meat farmers, butchers and restaurant owners, whose businesses will be forced to close, though the details of what compensation will be offered have yet to be worked through.

On Tuesday lunchtime in Seoul, down an alleyway with several dog meat restaurants, a handful of older people were tucking into the stew and the generational divide was stark.

Kim Seon-ho, 86, was disappointed by the ban. “We’ve eaten this since the Middle Ages. Why stop us from eating our traditional food?” he said. “If you ban dog meat then you should ban beef.”

Previous governments, dating back to the 1980s, have pledged to ban dog meat, but failed to make progress. Current President Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon Hee are known animal lovers – they have six dogs, and Ms Kim has called for the practice of eating dogs to end.

Animal rights groups, which have long been pushing for the ban, praised the outcome of Tuesday’s vote.

Jung Ah Chae, the executive director of the Humane Society in Korea, said she was surprised to see the ban in her lifetime. “While my heart breaks for all the millions of dogs for whom this change has come too late, I am overjoyed that South Korea can now close this miserable chapter in our history and embrace a dog friendly future,” she said.

Dog meat farmers had campaigned against the ban. They argued that, given the declining popularity among young people, the practice should be allowed to die out naturally over time. Many farmers and restaurateurs are elderly and said it would be difficult for them to switch livelihoods so late in life.

One dog farmer, Joo Yeong-bong, told the BBC the industry was in despair.

“In 10 years, the industry would have disappeared. We’re in our 60s and 70s and now we have no choice but to lose our livelihoods,” he said, adding that this was “an infringement of people’s freedom to eat what they like”.

One dog meat restaurant owner in her 60s, Mrs Kim, told the BBC she was frustrated by the ban, and blamed it on the rise in the number of people in South Korea having pets.

“Young people these days don’t get married, so they think of pets as family, but food is food. We should accept dog meat but raise and slaughter them in a hygienic environment,” she said.

“Other countries like China and Vietnam eat dogs, so why are we banning it?”

(BBC News)

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Indian train travels over 70km sans driver

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The Indian Railways has ordered an investigation after a freight train travelled more than 70km (43.4 miles) without drivers.
Videos shared on social media showed the train zooming past several stations at high speed.

Reports say the train ran without a driver from Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir to Hoshiarpur district in Punjab on Sunday.

The railways says the train was brought to a halt and no-one was hurt.

Officials told the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency that the incident took place between 07:25 and 09:00 local time (01:55 and 3:30 GMT) on Sunday.

The 53-wagon train, carrying stone chips, was on its way to Punjab from Jammu when it stopped in Kathua for a change in crew.

Officials say it began moving down a slope on the railway tracks after the train driver and his assistant got off.

The train moved at a speed of nearly 100km/h and managed to cross about five stations before it was stopped.

Soon after being alerted about the moving train, officials closed off railway crossings along its path.

“The train was stopped after a railway official placed wood blocks on the tracks to stop the train,” officials told PTI.

The wooden blocks helped reduce the speed of the train.

Officials told PTI they are trying to identify the exact reason for the train’s movement after it stopped at Kathua to avoid such incidents in the future.

(BBC News)

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Tamil Nadu bans cotton candy over cancer risk

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Can cotton candy give you cancer?

Some Indian states think so and have banned the sale of the pink, wispy, sugary-sweet treat.

Last week, the southern state of Tamil Nadu implemented the ban after lab tests confirmed the presence of a cancer-causing substance, Rhodamine-B, in samples sent for testing.

Earlier this month, the union territory of Puducherry banned the sweet treat while other states have begun testing samples of it.

Cotton candy, also called buddi-ka-baal (old woman’s hair) in India because of its appearance, is popular with children the world over.

It’s a fixture in amusement parks, fairs and other places of entertainment frequented by children, who like it because of its sticky, melt-in-the-mouth texture.

But some Indian officials say that the candy is more sinister than it seems.

P Satheesh Kumar, food safety officer in Chennai city in Tamil Nadu, told The Indian Express newspaper that the contaminants in cotton candy “could lead to cancer and affect all organs of the body”.

His team raided candy sellers at a beach in the city last week. Mr Kumar said the sweet sold in the city was made by independent sellers and not registered factories.

A few days later, the government announced a ban on its sale after lab tests detected the presence of Rhodamine-B, a chemical compound, in the samples. The chemical imparts a fluorescent pink hue and is used to dye textiles, cosmetics and inks.

Studies have shown that the chemical can increase the risk of cancer and Europe and California have made its use as a food dye illegal.

While banning cotton candy in Tamil Nadu, Health Minister Ma Subramanian said in a statement that using Rhodamine-B in the “packaging, import, sale of food or serving food containing it at weddings and other public events would be punishable under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006”.

Taking a cue from Tamil Nadu, the neighbouring state of Andhra Pradesh has also reportedly started testing samples of the candy to check for the presence of the carcinogen.

And earlier this week, the New India Express newspaper reported that food safety officials in Delhi too were pushing for a ban on cotton candy.

(BBC News)

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Indian farmers say they will resume march to New Delhi

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Protesting Indian farmers say they will resume marching to capital Delhi this week after rejecting a government proposal to buy some crops at assured prices on a five-year contract.
The protesters began marching last week but were stopped around 200km (125 miles) from Delhi.

Since then, farmer leaders were in talks with the government on their demands.

But on Monday night, they said the offer was “not in their interest”.

The government had proposed buying pulses, maize and cotton at guaranteed floor prices – also known as Minimum Support Price or MSP – through cooperatives for five years.

But the farmers say that they will stand by their demand of a “legal guarantee for MSP on all 23 crops”.

“We appeal to the government to either resolve our issues or remove barricades and allow us to proceed to Delhi to protest peacefully,” Jagjit Singh Dallewal, a farm union leader, told local media.

They say they will resume marching from Wednesday.

Farmers form an influential voting bloc in India and and analysts say the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be keen not to anger or alienate them. His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is seeking a third consecutive term in power in general elections this year.

Last week, authorities clashed with the protesters, firing tear gas and plastic bullets at them in a bid to halt the march. They fear a repeat of 2020, when thousands of farmers camped at Delhi’s borders for months, forcing the government to repeal controversial agricultural reforms.

The latest round of protests began on Wednesday, when farmers from Haryana and Punjab started marching to Delhi. They say the government did not keep promises made during the 2020-21 protest, and also have demands including pensions and a debt waiver.

But their most important demand is a law guaranteeing a support price for crops.

India introduced the MSP system in the 1960s – first for only wheat and later other essential crops – in a bid for food security.

Supporters of MSP say it is necessary to protect farmers against losses due to fluctuation in prices. They argue that the resulting income boost will allow farmers to invest in new technologies, improve productivity and protect cultivators from being fleeced by middlemen.

But critics say the system needs an overhaul as it is not sustainable and will be disastrous for government finances. They also say that it will be ruinous for the agricultural sector in the long run, leading to over-cultivation and storage issues.

Since last week, federal minister Piyush Goyal and other government officials had held four rounds of talks with the farmers. On Sunday, Mr Goyal told journalists that the discussions had been “positive” and that the government was devising an “out-of-the-box” solution to benefit farmers, consumers and the economy.

But on Monday, farmer leaders said they were dissatisfied with the way the talks were being held, claiming that there was no “transparency”.


(BBC News)

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