Clinical psychiatrist Su Wei-shuo (蘇偉碩), who has been accused of spreading false information about the effects of ractopamine on humans, yesterday said he would eat pork containing the drug if the president could prove it was safe.
Su, who has been an outspoken critic of such imports from the US, and who the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has expressed support for, is under investigation after the Ministry of Health and Welfare on Oct. 28 filed a formal complaint against him with the police, for allegedly spreading misinformation about ractopamine in contravention of the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法).
Su has previously said ractopamine causes autism and that it is 250 times more toxic than the drug MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, among other claims.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
At a news conference in front of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖), Su and other anti-ractopamine activists called on the government to halt its plan to import US pork containing ractopamine residue.
Su asked whether President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) could prove that ractopamine is safe to consume, and said: “If you [Tsai] dare to say [that it is safe], then I dare to eat it.”
The group brought a letter and a framed poem asking US officials not to sell meat products containing ractopamine in Taiwan, but the AIT did not send anyone outside to receive them, so the group said that they would send them by courier instead.
However, Su repealed his statement about ractopamine’s toxicity, saying that he had misunderstood a scientific paper he read on the subject, and that his current understanding is that ractopamine is one-fourth as toxic as MDMA.
Su added that he was not concerned about the ministry’s lawsuit against him and accused it of reporting false information in its assessment of the health risks of consuming ractopamine.
No scientific studies on ractopamine had been done in Taiwan, Su said, adding that “neither Tsai nor the ministry have the power to turn Taiwanese children into lab rats.”
Su said that he hoped for the development of a US-Taiwan relationship that allows the people of both countries to be healthy, and denied allegations that he was “pro-China.”
As evidence of this, Su said that in 2012, when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was the opposition and protested against the then-KMT government’s plan to lift the ban on imports of US pork containing ractopamine residue, he was asked by then-DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) to hold a lecture for DPP lawmakers on the issue.
Life expectancy in the US is declining, with heart disease as the leading cause of death, he said, adding that cardiac toxicity caused by ractopamine has been proven in animal tests.
Although Taiwan’s participation in the WTO meant that it could not refuse to import agricultural products, it can require that imported meat not contain ractopamine, as it does not use the drug on its own livestock, he said.
Su also expressed concerns about the potential effect of imported pork on the price of locally produced pork.
Meanwhile, KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) asked Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) whether the ministry’s case against Su was meant to create a chilling effect on free speech, saying that the ministry should clarify what statements by Su were considered misinformation.
Chen said that the ministry had clarified the issue numerous times, and has no choice but to take legal action agasint Su.
If Su could issue a clear correction, the ministry would not rule out dropping the case, he added.
Additional reporting by Lin Liang-sheng
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