Pan-blue parties yesterday urged President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration to face public opinion and not let food safety become a bargaining chip in international negotiations.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters issued a statement accusing Premier Lin Chuan (林全) of turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the demands of demonstrators gathered outside the Legislative Yuan.
“Lin’s cowardice in facing squarely the voices of the people has left all fellow citizens disappointed and discontented,” the KMT said, vowing to step up its supervision of the Tsai administration.
The KMT added that it would stand alongside the masses in safeguarding public health and the interests of the nation.
The party was referring to the thousands of fishermen and hog farmers who staged a rally outside the legislature yesterday morning calling on the government not to allow imports of US pork products containing the leanness-enhancing additive ractopamine and protesting its handling of the Okinotori fishing dispute.
Okinotori, an uninhabited Japan-controlled atoll in the western Pacific, has been at the center of an ongoing conflict between Taipei and Tokyo, sparked by the Japan Coast Guard’s seizure last month of a Taiwanese fishing boat operating about 150 nautical miles (278km) southeast of the atoll.
The People First Party (PFP) caucus also issued a statement urging the government not to let food safety become a leverage in international negotiations.
“The government should serve as a protector of public health and courageously resist international pressure, which has sparked concern over food safety. Only then people be able to eat and live in peace,” the PFP said.
The PFP said the government should use the highest international standards when it comes to food products that could potentially endanger public health.
However, even international experts have yet to reach a consensus on the safety of ractopamine, the PFP said, as evidenced by the contentious 69-67 vote cast in July 2012 by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a UN body that sets food standards, to allow residue of the feed additive in pigs, cattle and turkeys.
As pork containing ractopamine are cheaper and schools tend to be price-conscious, opening the nation’s door to such meat products could jeopardize students’ health and the livelihood of pig farmers.
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