President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for the legislature to resolve the US beef imports bill at next month’s extra session, dismissing the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) opposition to the bill by saying that US beef was imported without examination under the former DPP administration.
The DPP did not test US beef imports for the livestock feed additive ractopamine since 2007 and more than 100,000 tonnes of US beef products have been imported over the past five years, Ma said.
“How can the DPP say they are defending public health when the public has consumed US beef for five years? … I expect the US beef issue to be resolved at the extra session. We would only forfeit our future if the legislature continues to be deadlocked over the bill,” said Ma, who doubles as the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) chairman, during the party’s Central Standing Committee meeting.
The committee had invited Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) to report on the safety of ractopamine discussed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international organization set up under the UN to coordinate international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice.
Chen cited the Codex reference and the consumption of beef and pork with ractopamine residue in other nations such as the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and South Korea to defend the safety of the feed additive.
Ma, who has pressed the KMT legislative caucus on numerous occasions to pass a bill to ease the restrictions on imports of US beef with ractopamine residue, reiterated the importance for the nation of allowing US beef imports in order to facilitate trade and economic talks with Washington and other major trade partners.
He described the fuss over US beef imports as a “fake issue” created by the DPP for its own political gains.
“The DPP was also inclined to ease the ban on US beef containing ractopamine, or it would not have only tested the drug on pork [imports] in 2007,” he said. “In the legislature the DPP has called for a ‘zero tolerance’ policy on US beef, but it had a ‘zero examination’ policy in the past.”
Yesterday’s report on US beef imports was the latest attempt by Ma to press for passage of an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) to ease the ban on beef imports with ractopamine residue, after lawmakers failed to vote on the bill by the end of the legislative session earlier this month.