Wed, May 04, 2016 - Page 3 News List

PFP says a US pork deal would affect food safety

PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE:Legislator Chen Yi-chieh asked if farmers would be able to use ractopamine if imports with the drug residue are allowed

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The People First Party’s (PFP) legislative caucus yesterday said the nation’s food safety would fall apart if the incoming administration allows imports of pork containing ractopamine residue.

Party lawmakers also said a proposal to allow imports, but maintain the ban on domestic use of the leanness-enhancing additive, would be deceptive.

PFP caucus convener Lee Hung-chun (李鴻鈞) said that remarks last month by Council of Agriculture minister-designate Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) about being unable to avoid imports of US pork containing the additive were inappropriate, as they were “showing your cards before negotiations began” to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

Tsao said that there would be nothing he could do to stop imports of US pork containing ractopamine because Taiwan is a small economy that does not have the leverage to refuse such imports in a globalized world.

The WHO’s Codex Alimentarius Commission in 2012 adopted maximum residue levels of ractopamine in animal tissue, but the decision was reached via a vote won by a fragile majority — 69 votes for and 67 against — and it was wrong for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to ease the ban on imports of US beef containing ractopamine residue, Lee said.

“How many countries represented by the 69 votes that approved meat with ractopamine residue have similar dietary habits as Taiwan,” Lee said.

“The EU and China do not allow ractopamine residue in meat,” he said.

The nation’s self-sufficiency rate in pork has reached more than 90 percent, which means that imported pork is likely to end up in school lunches, restaurants and processed meat products, Lee said.

PFP Legislator Chen Yi-chieh (陳怡潔) said the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) criticized the Ma administration for being “incompetent” when it lifted the ban on US beef imports, so the incoming DPP administration would be “even more incompetent” if it allows such pork imports, because Taiwanese eat more pork than beef.

He questioned whether Taiwanese farmers would be allowed to use ractopamine if pork products with residue of the drug are allowed to be imported, adding that the policies for beef and pork must be separate to protect Taiwanese pig farmers and the public health.

PFP Legislator Chou Chen Hsiu-hsia (周陳秀霞) said allowing imports of pork with ractopamine residue, but prohibiting domestic use of the additive would be deceptive and unfair to farmers.

The DPP administration must not use the public’s health as a bargaining chip for international trade negotiations, Chou said.

Polls show that more than 70 percent of the public are against imports of pork containing ractopamine residue, so the DPP should not sacrifice the nation’s food safety for trade negotiations start, the lawmaker said.

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