US BEEF CONTROVERSY: Over 80% oppose Ma’s beef policy: poll

UNPOPULAR::A DPP poll showed that 67.4 percent of respondents do not believe Ma, who says there is no scientific evidence that ractopamine is harmful to humans

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Thu, Mar 08, 2012 - Page 3

Four out of five people are opposed to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policy of lifting the ban on the animal feed additive ractopamine, a survey conducted by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) showed.

The opinion poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, found 80.9 percent of respondents said they did not support the policy, which would allow imported US beef products containing traces of ractopamine, the DPP told a press conference yesterday.

DPP spokesperson Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said 58.8 percent said they “definitely did not support” the policy, while 22.1 percent said they were “somewhat against” it.

“It seems to us that Taiwanese understand the situation very well, as most of them dislike the fact that Ma is trading public health for his own benefit — US support for his re-election campaign,” Lin said.

The survey showed that more than half of those polled had no confidence in the Ma administration’s handling of the issue, with 67.4 percent saying that they did not believe the president’s assertion that no scientific evidence proves that ractopamine adversely affects human health; 62.7 percent said they have no confidence in Ma’s ability to safeguard food safety; while 70.8 percent said they were not satisfied with the president’s handling of the issue.

The survey questioned 1,261 people and had a margin of error of 2.81 percent.

The DPP said that it takes the same view as the public, that health should take priority over the “so-called national interest” in trade relations, Lin said.

He added that the president had not explained what Taiwan’s diplomatic and trade gains would be for making the concession on public health.

The DPP said it supports a nationwide protest being organized by pig farmers and civic groups, which is scheduled to take place today.

In related news, the DPP’s legislative caucus reiterated that the party has a zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine and that it is opposed to relaxing the maximum residue level (MRL) for the drug to 10 parts per billion, which is reportedly the Department of Health’s planned MRL for ractopamine.

DPP Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀), whose constituency is in Yilan County, urged Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-controlled local governments to follow the lead of Yilan County, which has said it would ban all imports of beef containing ractopamine residues from its jurisdiction.