Thu, Mar 08, 2012 - Page 1 News List

US BEEF CONTROVERSY: Sixteen civic groups rally in Taipei against US beef

Staff Writer, with CNA

Protesters rally in front of the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday to voice their unhappiness with the government’s plan to conditionally allow the import of US beef products containing traces of ractopamine.

Photo: Sam Yeh, AFP

Sixteen civic groups took to the streets of Taipei yesterday to demand the resignation of Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) over the Cabinet’s decision to push for a conditional lifting of a ban on imports of US beef containing a controversial feed additive.

About 70 members from the groups rallied in front of the Control Yuan before marching to the Executive Yuan, where they demanded Chen’s resignation over what they described as the government’s “hasty” decision to lift the ban on US beef containing residues of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.

While the government says “there are no reports that show ractopamine is unsafe, neither are there reports that show it is [safe],” Homemakers United Foundation president Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) said.

She accused the government of only citing figures that favor its decision, while ignoring the fact that there are no reports that guarantee the safety of the drug.

“It was a very hasty decision made without thorough discussion and evaluation,” Chen said.

“The meeting held by the Council of Agriculture was a sham,” she said, referring to the council’s third interministerial meeting on ractopamine, which failed to deliver a clear statement on the drug’s safety.

The groups demanded that the premier step down and that the government ban all imports of products containing traces of ractopamine. The legislature should pass a law before March 20 to ban imports of such products, they added.

If the premier did not step down by the end of this month, the groups would launch a large-scale protest on April 1, said Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳), a representative of the Life Conservationist Association.

More than 100 civic groups will hold demonstrations around the country from next week, Ho added.

The Cabinet said on Monday evening that it was leaning toward allowing imports of US beef containing ractopamine residues as long as four principles were followed: there was a safe level of ractopamine in beef; the permits for importing beef and pork were kept separate; imported beef was clearly labeled and the import of internal organs was banned.

The Republic of China Swine Association said on Tuesday that more than 8,000 pig farmers would take part in a rally in Taipei today to protest against the import of US beef containing ractopamine.

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