Tue, Jun 05, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Minister downplays US beef fears

Staff writer, with CNA

Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji, third right, attends a meeting at the legislature in Taipei yesterday. Chen said that the council respects the findings of a Taiwanese inspection delegation on the safety of US beef.

Photo: CNA

With the legislature scheduled to vote next week on a bill that, if successful, would open Taiwan to imports of US beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) yesterday sought to assure the public on meat safety, while some lawmakers called for a continued ban.

Chen told the legislature’s Economics Committee that the council has “no doubts about ractopamine in terms of food safety.”

However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Huang Chao- shun (黃昭順) said the council has not yet offered any new scientific data on the safety of ractopamine.

She cited Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who recently said: “After the government lifts its ban on imports of US beef containing ractopamine, the public can choose whether or not to eat it.”

“I personally cannot accept the government’s explanation of the situation on US beef,” Huang said.

She told Chen that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should not think that the amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) will clear the legislature without a hitch.

KMT Legislator Hsu Yao-chang (徐耀昌) expressed concern that any relaxation on beef products could also apply to pork from the US.

Chen said in response that Taiwan has exchanged views with the US on the separation of US beef and pork imports.

The Ma administration is hopeful that the ban can be relaxed soon to facilitate the resumption of major trade talks between Taiwan and the US.

Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Francis Liang (梁國新) said earlier yesterday that talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) have been stalled since 2007 due to US dissatisfaction over Taiwan’s restrictions on US beef imports.

“We hope the US beef controversy can be resolved soon,” Liang said.

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