Taiwan's Opposition Party Says No to American Pork

Food safety concerns have triggered domestic political debate in Taiwan over allowing the import of U.S. pork containing ractopamine, a leanness-enhancing additive.


The News Lens (Taiwan)



Opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) on Sunday said it would initiate a referendum against the easing of restrictions on U.S. beef and pork imports.


In a surprising news conference last month, President Tsai Ing-wen declared that Taiwan would allow imports of U.S. beef over 30 months old as well as pork containing ractopamine, a leanness-enhancing additive.


“I trust that if we can take this key step regarding U.S. beef and pork issues, it will be an important starting point for more comprehensive Taiwan-U.S. economic cooperation,” she said.


Despite the latest breakthrough in Taiwan-U.S. trade relations, food safety concerns have triggered domestic political debate in Taiwan.


KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang criticized President Tsai for rushing through the decision without inquiring into public opinion. He also accused Tsai and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of having “double standards” by accepting ractopamine in pork imports while banning it domestically.


“The DPP government may find itself stuck between a rock and a hard place, and end up with nothing,” the KMT said in a press release. “We are afraid that the DPP government will accept whatever the Trump government demands in the future trade talks.”


Beef and pork imports have been a recurring controversy in Taiwan, especially since the ractopamine ban in 2006. Racoptamine, which belongs to a class of growth drugs called beta agonists, can speed up the animal’s heart rate and stimulate aggressive behaviors. The use of this drug in animal feed is banned or regulated in at least 160 countries including China, Russia, and the European Union.


Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare had once announced the easing of restrictions on ractopamine in 2007, the last year of former President Chen Shui-bian’s office term. But the proposal was rescinded after pig farmers protested by throwing rotten eggs and pig feces at the ministry office...


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