Braving heavy torrential rain, hundreds of people yesterday reiterated their opposition against the relaxation of beef imports containing the animal feed additive ractopamine in a protest in front of the legislature in Taipei.
Protesters, including supporters of the Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union, as well as representatives from various civic groups, attempted to seize what they thought would be the final opportunity to have their voices on the issue heard.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also serves as chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), made yesterday the deadline to pass an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) to pave the way for the relaxation of the ban on beef containing ractopamine.
“The passing of the amendment would be the beginning of misery for Taiwan,” Citizen Congress Watch executive director Chang Hung-lin (張宏林) said.
The Ma administration appears clueless as it is caught between public health and trade negotiations with the US, he said.
Chang added that the four promises — establishing a safe level of ractopamine residues for beef imports, differentiating the safety standards for beef and pork products, requiring mandatory labeling for beef products, as well as maintaining the ban on imports of beef offal from the US — are doomed to fail because it would be impossible to implement them.
Chiayi County Swine Association chairman Lin Chiu-kuei (林秋桂) said the amendment would be crucial for public health as well as the development of the pig husbandry industry.
Lin said she insisted on a zero-tolerance policy for ractopamine in all meat products — imported or domestically produced — except for US beef imports.
“Farmers in Taiwan have never received due respect from the government. We do not rule out launching another 520 Farmers Movement,” Alliance for Farmers’ Rights in Taiwan president Wu Chiu-ku (吳秋穀) said, referring to a massive farmers’ protest in 1988.
Supporters of the 908 Taiwan Republic Campaign took a different approach in their demonstration by throwing cow chips into the legislature.
Pan-green lawmakers, who were in the middle of a 120-hour sit-in in the legislature for various issues, including the beef controversy, spoke to the crowd and expressed appreciation for their support.