Pig farmers and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) yesterday called for zero tolerance on the animal feed additive ractopamine, with an imminent relaxation of regulations governing imports of meat containing residues of the drug appearing inevitable as an extra legislative session begins today.
“While the Codex Alimentarius Commission narrowly voted in favor of maximum residue levels [MRL] of ractopamine on July 5, the TSU insists on zero tolerance of the drug,” TSU caucus whip Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) told a joint press conference with representatives of pig farmers.
The TSU would block the legislative proceeding in the extra session, Hsu said, but he declined to disclose how the party would do so.
Hsu said his party opposed relaxing a ban on meat with ractopamine residues because it was doubtful the government would be able to implement its four principles regarding meat imports.
The four principles include establishing a safe level of ractopamine residues for beef imports, differentiating the safety standards for beef and pork products, requiring mandatory labeling of beef products and maintaining the ban on imports of beef offal from the US.
Hsu said a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) plan to differentiate pork and beef safety standards in an additional resolution would be ineffective because the additional resolution would not be legally binding.
“That is why pig farmers are worried,” Republic of China Swine Association president Yang Kuan-chang (楊冠章) said, adding that the commission’s decision had panicked local pig farmers.
“Pig farmers are extremely suspicious of the Council of Agriculture’s pledge that ractopamine-tainted US pork imports would not be allowed,” said Lin Chiu-kuei (林秋桂), first deputy chairperson of the association and president of the Chiayi County Swine Association.
TSU Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) said Taiwan should follow the example of the EU, which maintains a zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine, adding that the nation should apply its own measures to safeguard food safety, citing the WTO’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.