Executive Yuan spokesman-designate Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) yesterday said the incoming government would establish an intra-ministerial negotiation mechanism to discuss issues concerning imports of US pork with ractopamine residue, pledging that the public’s food safety would not be sacrificed.
Tung made the remarks in Taipei amid growing speculation that president-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration plans to allow imports of US pork containing residues of the leanness-promoting feed additive after she is sworn in on May 20.
Tung said it is too early to talk about opening the nation’s doors to US pork containing ractopamine because Tsai’s administration has yet to begin evaluations of the policy.
“It is the government’s goal and the wish of Taiwanese that the nation join the Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] trade agreement, but the administration must take into consideration both the public’s food safety and the interests of concerned industries,” Tung said.
Tsai’s administration would not enter into negotiations over imports of US pork containing ractopamine until four objectives are achieved, Tung said.
The first is the establishment of a comprehensive food safety management system, while the second would be safeguarding Taiwanese pig farmers’ interests and enhancing their competitiveness, Tung said.
The government’s third objective would be to bring Taiwan in alignment with international standards, Tung said, adding that the Ministry of Health and Welfare would take into account domestic consumers’ eating habits and scientific evidence before deciding whether to follow the standards set by UN food safety body the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which considers pork containing ractopamine of 10 parts per billion safe.
“The fourth objective would be to engage in thorough communication with the public,” Tung said.
Tung was asked to comment on Premier Simon Chang’s (張善政) remarks on Saturday that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has managed to withstand pressure to allow the import of US pork containing ractopamine residue for years, a statement meant to refute Council of Agriculture minister-designate Tsao Chi-hung’s (曹啟鴻) comments that Taiwan does not have the leverage to refuse imports of US pork.
“I believe that Chang also thinks the nation should join the TPP and that there are certain issues that have to be addressed before we can be granted membership,” Tung said.
Simply dividing governments into those that manage to resist pressure and those that fail does not provide a complete picture of an administration’s competence, Tung added.
Separately yesterday, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) demanded that Tsai apologize over what it said is the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) flip-flop over its stance on imports of US pork.
“Prior to the Jan. 16 presidential and legislative elections, Tsai never denied allegations about her plan to permit imports US pork containing ractopamine. However, at the time, the DPP filed charges against several local KMT branches for putting up banners reading: ‘Supporting Tsai Ing-wen is tantamount to supporting the import of US pork containing ractopamine,’” KMT spokesperson Wang Hong-wei (王鴻薇) said at a news conference in Taipei.
“Were those lawsuits not part of the DPP’s attempts to fool voters? Did they not constitute fraud?” Wang said.