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Debate Continues Over US Beef Imports

12 November 2009

TAIWAN - President Ma Ying-jeou has promised measures to block high-risk US beef parts from hitting the Taiwan market, which has been criticised by the opposition.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vowed all-out efforts to organise a massive protest against what it called US “toxic” beef imports, ahead of a legislative meeting next week for revising food laws to address the controversy, reports The China Post.

The DPP claimed that President Ying-jeou and the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) are trying to adopt a revision that seems to enable a “technical ban” on high-risk US beef parts, but in fact will give the imports unrestricted access to the Taiwan market.

If the KMT version is adopted at next weeks legislative meeting, the DPP will take further actions, said the opposition party's spokesman Tsai Chih-chang.

Meanwhile, the President has invited top Cabinet officials and KMT lawmakers to a lunch meeting to discuss the direction for revising the food laws.

The President stressed that the risk of contracting mad cow disease by eating US beef is extremely low and said that the government will make sure that administrative measures will be in place to block high-risk imports from the Taiwan market.

The government gives top priority to people's health, but the measures will not violate the principles of international trade, the President said.

He also denied that there was an exchange deal behind the signing of an agreement to allow imports from the United States of bone-in-beef, organs and minced meat.

Lawmakers from across all party lines have reacted strongly to the agreement, accusing the administration of risking the people's health.

The Legislature has adopted a resolution seeking to revise the food law to prevent imports of high-risk US beef parts.

The DPP caucus has proposed a revision stipulating a ban on imports of bovine skulls, brains, eyes, and ground beef from nations of areas affected by mad cow disease.

But a KMT lawmaker has proposed another version authorising the government to work out measures to inspect beef products from areas where the risk of mad cow disease has been put under control.

The DPP told The China Post that the KMT lawmaker's version does not even bother to stipulate that such beef products could be banned from being imported into Taiwan.

If such a version is adopted, it will be even worse than the original law, the DPP said.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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