The Consumers’ Foundation and several civic groups yesterday launched an online petition to demand that the government scrap its executive order easing restrictions on imports of US pork containing the leanness-enhancing agent ractopamine.
Ractopamine is harmful to animals and there is insufficient data on its effects on the health of humans, the foundation said.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Aug. 28 announced that, starting on Jan. 1, Taiwan would ease restrictions on imports of US pork containing traces of the animal feed additive, as well as beef from cattle aged 30 months or older.
Seeing the number of people who sign the petition, the government would hopefully take what people are saying more seriously, the foundation said, adding that the government could use the petition as a bargaining tool in economic and trade negotiations with other nations.
Toxicology Society of Taiwan chairman Li Jih-heng (李志恆) said that although the Codex Alimentarius Commission set safety standards for ractopamine two years ago, they were based on a study that included only six participants.
The European Food Safety Authority has questioned the results, saying that they were only preliminary and, as it was not a double-blind study, the results might be biased, Li said.
The level of neurotoxins in ractopamine and the effects on people with cardiovascular disease are unclear, he said.
Some animal studies have identified links between ractopamine and uterine fibroids, non-cancerous tumors that can grow in the uterus, he added.
Psychiatrist Su Wei-shuo (蘇偉碩) said that despite the government’s claims that ractopamine only poses health risks if consumed in large amounts, long-term exposure to low doses is more dangerous.
Such exposure can affect fertility, increase the prevalence of certain types of cancer and aggravate schizophrenia, Su added.
The petition can be found at https://reurl.cc/4mbLrX.
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