Fri, Jun 15, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Ma confident beef bill will pass vote

BEEFING UP:The issue of ractopamine residue in imported beef should be decided by a vote in the legislature today, but neither side looks likely to lie down and accept defeat

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

As the confrontation between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and opposition parties over the vote on the import of beef containing traces of the leanness--enhancing livestock feed additive ractopamine continued, the Presidential Office yesterday said it expected the KMT to pass the draft bill before the legislative session ends today as scheduled.

“The KMT caucus has pledged to pass the draft bill that would allow the import of US beef by Friday and the Presidential Office also expects the bill to be passed as soon as possible,” Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Ta-chi (范姜泰基) said.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also serves as KMT chairman, has demanded that the party caucus pass an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) before the legislative session ends today to pave the way for the relaxation of the ban on beef with ractopamine residue.

Opposition parties launched a 120-hour protest against the vote and blocked the entrance of the legislative chamber since Monday to prevent Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) from entering to call a vote. The KMT responded by threatening to break down the door to allow the vote to proceed.

Fan Chang said Ma would not make any political moves before the vote, but would deliver a speech on the issue after the amendment cleared the legislative floor.

Ma has stressed the urgency of resolving the US beef issue to facilitate the resumption of trade talks with the US under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and pursue free-trade agreements with major trading partners, he said.

The US also expects the government to solve the issue as soon as possible, he said.

KMT spokesman Yin Wei (殷瑋) yesterday urged what he called “US experts” in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), including Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), head of the DPP’s policy--making body Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and director of the DPP’s International Affairs Department Liu Shih-chung (劉世忠), to explain whether US beef containing the feed additive could be poisonous to humans.

“In the US, ractopamine is a legal feed additive, and Americans eat beef products that contain it. If the DPP says that ractopamine-laced beef is poisonous, it is telling the US that it is poisoning its people,” Yin said.

Wu, a former representative to the US, said in 2000 that the TIFA talks would not be resumed if US beef imports were blocked, Yin added, challenging Wu to make the comment again.

“Liu also said earlier this month that the DPP is not against US beef or the US. As an expert in international affairs, is Liu qualified to tell the public whether or not US beef with ractopamine residues is poisonous?” Yin said.

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