Taipei, Several civic groups in Taiwan said Tuesday they will form an alliance against the government’s recent decision to allow the importation of American pork containing residues of the livestock drug ractopamine, while some opposition lawmakers called for a legislative review of the relevant standards.
The government’s decision poses a threat not only to democracy and public health but also to the domestic pig farming industry and future trade negotiations, said Pingtung-based environmental groups, Changhua-based medical professionals and members of Taiwan Rural Front.
The groups, which have launched a signature drive for a petition against the importation of U.S. pork containing ractopamine, said they will form an alliance to organize other activities.
Activist Yang Ju-men (楊儒門), who founded the 248 Farmers’ Market, said the government should not import “poisoned pork.”
If the government goes through with that decision, it should label all the imported products with warnings about the health risks, thus leveling the playing field for Taiwanese pig farmers, who are not permitted to use the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, Yang said.
One of the doctors in the groups, Changhua Christian Hospital pediatrician Chien Jien-wen (錢建文), said it is difficult to assess the health risks of the drug because of a lack of scientific evidence of its effects.
Until the government can obtain some clarity on the issue, it should maintain its standard of zero ractopamine residues in pork, which is also the European Union standard, Chien said.
Meanwhile, lawmakers of the opposition New Power Party (NPP) called for a legislative review of the government’s administrative order on American meat imports. The government should not fast-track the administrative decision, which would allow for it to take effect seven days after the order is signed, the NPP said.
The public should be given at least 60 days to discuss the issue, said NPP Legislator Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智).
The pushback from the groups came after the government announced earlier this month that it will set new standards for residues of the controversial feed additive ractopamine in imported pork and ease restrictions on American beef, in an apparent attempt to pave the way to broker a trade deal with the U.S.
The new policy will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. Taiwan currently allows pork imports from the U.S. as long as they are free of ractopamine residues, but Washington has cited that policy as a barrier to bilateral trade talks.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel