The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus yesterday called on Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers to make the “right decision” when a crucial amendment related to the US beef import controversy is put to a vote next week.
The DPP caucus urged 14 KMT legislators, who had expressed their support for a zero-tolerance policy on US beef imports containing traces of the livestock feed additive ractopamine, to stand firm on their position for the vote, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said.
The legislature will vote on Tuesday next week on an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) that would ease restrictions on the entry of beef containing ractopamine residue.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the KMT say that the ban on US beef imports containing ractopamine should be lifted because the drug has not been shown to harm human health and the lifting of the ban is a prerequisite for the resumption of negotiations for the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the US.
The DPP, along with the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party, oppose the relaxation and lifting of the ban, citing public health concerns.
“The DPP does not oppose US beef imports. We oppose US beef with ractopamine,” Chen said, adding that lifting the ban should not be the only solution that would lead to the resumption of TIFA talks.
Chen said she hoped the 14 KMT lawmakers could maintain their support for the zero-tolerance policy, saying that if the dissenting KMT legislators all cooperate with the 46-member opposition, the final vote would result in a 60-53 margin against relaxing the ban.
She warned the 14 KMT lawmakers against succumbing to party pressure and abstaining from the vote, saying that doing so “would be helping the other side.”
It is possible to create a win-win situation for both sides in the controversy with lower tariffs on other US beef or agricultural products and for Taiwan to gain an opportunity to resume trade negotiations, she said.
The DPP favored the “EU model,” which imports US beef without the drug from designated US farms, DPP Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) said.
DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said that Ma, who is scheduled to preside over a KMT caucus meeting on Friday in which the party’s legislators will discuss how to push through the amendment to ease imports of US beef, had “lied to Taiwanese” about the issue.
Ma had pledged that there was neither a timetable nor promise made to Washington about the issue, but then “turned around and told us that it is related to the resumption of TIFA talks,” Huang said.