More than 70 percent of the public are opposed to easing a ban on imports of beef containing ractopamine, People First Party legislative caucus whip Thomas Lee (李桐豪) said yesterday, citing an opinion poll, and he accused the government of lying in its arguments for easing the ban.
As the majority of the public are against easing the ban, “the Legislative Yuan, as a representative of public opinion, should respect that opinion,” Lee said.
Citing an opinion poll conducted on Monday and Tuesday, with more than 1,000 valid samples collected from citizens over 20 years of age, Lee said that as many as 72.5 percent of respondents are against lifting the ban.
“The UN’s Codex Alimentarius Commission is meeting next month and is probably not going to set a residual allowance level for ractopamine, which means ractopamine would not be allowed at all in food,” Lee said. “We should follow the Codex’s standards.”
He criticized the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) proposals to amend the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) to set a maximum allowable level for racotopamine residues in food, supporting the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) “zero tolerance” revision proposals.
“Ractopamine should not be present at all, that’s the real Codex standard,” he said.
He also panned the government for saying that the EU had lost a lawsuit for banning ractopamine.
“The dispute between the EU and the US was about the use of estradinol, progesterone, testosterone, melengesterol acetate and zeranol. It did not include ractopamine at all,” Lee said. “The government should not intentionally spread such false information.”
He was referring to remarks by KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) earlier this month on a lawsuit between the EU and the US on additives in food.
Commenting on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) remarks that lifting the ban is an important step toward talks on trade agreements, including the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, free-trade agreements and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Lee said that Taiwan had fallen behind and it was too late now to talk about such trade liberalization.
“The best way for the development of Taiwan is to adjust industrial structures,” he said.
Lee called on the government and the KMT not to try to force through amendments in the legislature, as “this is only going to create more disputes between different political camps.”
Meanwhile, a separate poll yesterday found that most people were willing to put the US beef controversy to a referendum, despite differing opinions on whether to adopt a pending international standard on ractopamine residues.
The survey, conducted on Monday and Tuesday by Taiwan Indication Survey Research (TISR), showed 60.9 percent of respondents, including more than half of pan-blue supporters, agreed to put the ractopamine residues issue to a referendum.
TISR general manager Tai Li-an (戴立安) said the poll showed that the public remained divided on the amount of allowable ractopamine residues, with 46.2 percent saying they agree with setting maximum residue levels in accordance with the final decision of the UN Codex Alimentarius Commission next month, while 40 percent disagreed.
The poll also showed President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) approval rating dipping to 22.4 percent, and only 29.2 percent of respondents deemed Ma as “credible.”