The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of “scamming” the public after Council of Agriculture minister-designate Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) said in an interview that Taiwan does not have the leverage to refuse imports of US pork.
In an interview with the Chinese-language United Daily News, Tsao said that, while not a decision to be made solely by the council, opening up the nation to US pork imports containing the leanness additive ractopamine is “the direction” the future government is heading in.
The newspaper quoted Tsao as saying the council does not have the power to thwart globalization and that, while still too early to say, he does not want to lie to the nation’s pig farmers.
“Unlike powerful economies, we are an export-led nation, constrained by different conditions compared with the EU or China,” Tsao was quoted as saying.
In a radio interview yesterday morning, Tsao said that if the future government decides to open the market to US pork, the Cabinet should share the work of preparing supporting measures and face the impact together.
“The Council of Agriculture would enforce a rigorous ban on the use of leanness-inducing additives in domestic pig farming to segment the market [on the basis of whether pork contains traces of ractopamine],” Tsao said.
KMT caucus whip Lin Te-fu (林德福) told a news conference that the DPP was “acting like a fraud ring” and “replacing its brain after changing its position.”
Tsao is “playing bad cop” to bear the brunt of criticism to spare president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) from the potential public furor, Lin said.
KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) called for Tsai to “make public what she promised to the US government when she visited the US before the January presidential election and why she was able to receive friendly treatment from the US.”
Lai said Tsai should detail her agreement with the US government before being sworn in to dispel suspicions that she “sold out the Taiwanese public’s health” for the presidency.
The DPP caucus in 2012 fiercely opposed the import of pork with traces of ractopamine and implemented a “zero tolerance” policy on the feed additive, he added.
“The KMT caucus will simply follow the DPP’s position on the matter, which is to uphold a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on ractopamine residue in imported pork products and refuse to accept so-called international standards allowing up to 10 parts per billion of ractopamine residue,” Lai said.
More pork is consumed in Taiwan than in Japan or South Korea, two countries that have opened up their markets to US pork products and “that eat pig offal, where the highest concentration of additive residue is found,” KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said, adding that allowing US pork imports might create health risks.
Lai said the KMT would launch nationwide demonstrations if necessary should the future government plan to force the decision.
In response, Legislative Speaker Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) said that some of the nation’s industries, including agriculture, would be affected if Taiwan were to join various international economic and trade organizations, such as the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“Opening up Taiwan’s market to agricultural imports would be contingent upon farmers’ interests being protected and food safety being guaranteed, areas into which the government should concentrate its efforts,” Su said.