Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) reiterated yesterday that he has no preconceived position on the safety of the feed additive ractopamine in meat products.
Chen said that the government will collect as much information and data as possible on the drug and its effects on human health before making a decision on whether to import US beef containing ractopamine residues.
Asked whether the options include maintaining the country’s zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine, Chen said: “Anything is possible.”
The previous day, Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) also told the media that the government has no preset stance on the US beef issue.
The nation has been under pressure from the US to revise its zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine to allow in US beef.
Washington’s decision last year to further suspend talks with Taiwan under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement was seen as being designed to force Taiwan’s hand.
The move came after the nation rejected US beef products found to contain residues of ractopamine, a leanness-enhancing drug used in livestock farming in the US and more than 20 other countries around the world.
Since then, the beef issue has remained a contentious one in trade relations.
In the public debate on the safety of ractopamine, the government has been criticized for presenting the data in favor of the US, but Chen said the government has been collecting information on the drug from all available sources.
Critics have cited the government’s quoting of monthly reports by US drug manufacturer Elanco as an example of its bias. Elanco produces ractopamine under the brand name Paylean.
However, Chen made the analogy that if one buys an HTC handset, the handbook will be from HTC — not Apple.
“No one except Elanco will run laboratory tests [on ractopamine],” he said.
If the ministry rejects the Elanco reports, “where else will the information come from?” he added.
The question now is whether Elanco’s data meets the scientific standards set by the experts assigned to deal with the US beef issue, he said.