Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) yesterday questioned a US report on a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) case and said that Taiwan should ban imports of US beef.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday released its final report on the three-month investigation of a 10-year, seven-month-old cow in California that had tested positive for BSE in April and confirmed that case was isolated and did not pose a threat to the US food supply or human health.
Lin and Chang Yu-ling (張玉玲), executive secretary of the Homemakers Union Foundation, questioned the validity of the USDA report and said Taiwan should stop imports of US beef.
While the government has said it would only stop importing US beef if the World Organization for Animal Health raises its risk status, Lin said it was not uncommon for major world powers such as the US to interfere in international organizations’ monitoring of animal epidemics.
“In other words, these powers have not been monitored as they should have been,” Lin said.
The US BSE case in April was detected after an examination of 40,000 cows out of a total of 35 million. Proportionally, that means 15 of Taiwan’s annual imports of 150,000 cows could be infected with BSE, Lin said.
“If you count the increasing domestic cases of BSE, [importing US beef] poses too big a risk to public health,” she added.
The disease was not detected in the cow before it was sent to a slaughterhouse, which suggests that US-made milk powder might also be infected, Lin said.
Human beings may be infected with mad cow disease if they eat contaminated food or through blood transfusion and these infectious agents cannot be eliminated by burning or burying them, Chang said.
“The best way to prevent infection is to stop the importation — not stop buying and eating US beef as President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has claimed,” Chang said.