Liberty Times: Some people have said that local livestock farmers have also used lean-meat additives on the sly and therefore we should allow the import of US beef. What are your views on this?
Lin Chieh-liang (林杰樑): I cannot agree with this type of viewpoint. More than 90 percent of the nation’s pig and cow farmers abide by the laws and we should not open our borders to drugs with a high risk of damaging the health of our people. What the government should do is to enforce the law on those few who do use lean-meat additives, instead of opening up the market to a banned drug.
Others [have raised the example of] the [known] danger posed by cigarettes, but [despite that knowledge] we still import them.
However, it is a fact that cigarettes were imported before we found out that tobacco was cancer-inducing.
US beef raised without lean-meat inducing additives hasn’t been imported yet and is a risk that can be prevented or controlled beforehand. Does the government really want to allow these imports and have our people and their progeny become human test subjects?
Also, there is an estimated 60 percent of US beef that was not raised on additives. Why can the US sell additive-free beef to the EU and to China, but mandate that Taiwan have to allow the import of additive-laced beef? It is very unfair.
LT: Although the government says it has “no predetermined stance” on the issue of increased US beef imports, government officials’ efforts at clearing Paylean’s name suggest that allowing further imports of US beef is a foregone conclusion. What would be your suggestions [to the public]?
Lin: The issue of ractopamine’s effects on health has been debated for many years and is a matter still being debated internationally. However, our government officials seem to have “suddenly” made guarantees that ractopamine-containing Paylean is not toxic and is safe, barely a month after the elections.
Actually, the US beef issue is a political problem and the government should not try to use academic methods that blur the professionalism of academia [on the subject]. It’s all too weird. The matter also pertains to the issue of attitude: Are we to simply refuse the importation of certified high-danger foodstuffs, but allow low-toxicity additives and meats of questionable safety to enter the country?
If the government is forced, on the basis of national security or political reasons, or because it is unable to withstand the diplomatic and economic pressures of the US government, to allow the import of ractopamine-laced beef, then it should be honest with the Taiwanese people and apologize.
Then Taiwanese society can work together and find ways to minimize the risks of importing US beef, especially to people with cardiovascular diseases, such as clearly labeling if a package of meat is laced with ractopamine and how much ractopamine is in the meat, to protect the basic rights of people to preserve their health.
Other countries have used the reasons of eating habits or food security to deny ractopamine-laced US beef entering their markets. Taiwan must make an attempt to stand up for its own rights.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer