SEF head visits China
Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) left for Nanjing yesterday on his second visit to China since assuming the post in September. During the six-day visit, the nation’s top negotiator with Beijing will also visit other cities in central and southern China — including Kunshan, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shenzhen — to meet with Taiwanese businesspeople. Lin said the global economic downturn has led Taiwanese businesspeople in China to shift their focus to the service industry and the two sides are conducting talks on establishing trade in services.
Guatemala given choppers
Taiwan donated two helicopters and a variety of components to diplomatic ally Guatemala on Monday, a move that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said would help the Central American country boost its ability to respond to natural disasters. Two decommissioned UH-1H utility helicopters were dispatched to Guatemala, while the components will be used to revamp two existing choppers, said Jaime Wu (吳進木), director-general of the ministry’s Department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs. Wu added that the helicopters would be used to undertake relief and rescue operations during natural disasters. However, a message posted on Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti’s Facebook page on Monday said Taiwan delivered four helicopters to Guatemala to reinforce the country’s security capabilities and help it fight drug trafficking. Wu said he did not know why Baldetti said they would be used for a different purpose.
Disease info bill passes
A draft amendment to the Communicable Disease Control Act (傳染病防治法) that passed an initial screening at the legislature on Monday stipulates that the media must correct false information on disease prevention measures after being alerted by the authorities. Under the revision, if members of the media incorrectly report on the outbreak of communicable diseases or prevention measures during an epidemic, they should make immediate corrections after being notified by authorities to prevent adversely affecting disease control measures. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and opposition parties still need to come to a consensus over the bill. Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers said the bill interferes with the freedom of speech, adding that it is targeted at former television pundit Cheng Hung-yi (鄭弘儀), who repeatedly questioned the safety of influenza vaccines on his talk show.
Bananas have toxic residue
Some bananas grown in Kaohsiung were found to have nearly 200 times the maximum allowed level of fungicide residue, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said yesterday. The bananas tested were found to have 1.93 parts per million (ppm) of kresoxim-methyl, far above the maximum allowed level of 0.01 ppm, the FDA’s southern management center said. Two batches of beefsteak tomatoes sold in Hsinchu City were also found to be contaminated with the banned pesticide fludioxonil, the FDA said, adding that the tomatoes also had residues of the pesticide carbendazim, 4.45 times higher than the allowed level. Carbendazim is quite toxic and can cause birth defects, lymph node tumors and lower sperm counts, but fludioxonil is less toxic and can be flushed from the the human body one hour after ingestion.