The government should not toy with public health to curry favor with the US, the Consumers' Foundation said yesterday, criticizing the Department of Health (DOH) for removing the ban on the use of Endosulfan, a pesticide found in imports of US apples and other agricultural products.
The DOH said on March 29 it was lifting the ban on the chemical and would allow a residue of up to 0.5ppm on US imported apples.
Hsieh Ting-hung (謝定宏), deputy director of the DOH's Bureau of Food Safety, has said that the new standard was set after reviewing joint standards established by the WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as US and European norms, as part of an overall effort to evaluate standards for residues of various pesticides in different agricultural products.
However, the new standard for apples has sparked criticism from consumer rights advocates.
Advocates said the chemical, listed as a category 11, or “moderately hazardous,” by the WHO, has been proven to be harmful to humans, possibly causing liver damage and other complications such as convulsions, nausea, difficulty breathing and, in some cases, death.
“The government kept saying it did not consult the US when it lifted the ban. Of course, there was no need for the US to negotiate with Taiwan, because Taiwan did it all on its own to win favors from the US,” foundation president Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁) said.
“While the government gained political points, Taiwanese farmers and the public suffer,” he said.
Removing the ban would further boost US apple sales and indirectly hurt Taiwanese apple farmers who are prohibited from using the pesticide, he said.
“The public has never authorized the government to purchase toxic groceries for the people, but that's exactly what is happening,” foundation secretary-general Gaston Wu (吳家誠) said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA