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Eating U.S. beef safer than riding motorcycle: AIT chief

Eating U.S. beef safer than riding motorcycle: AIT chief
Eating U.S. beef safer than riding motorcycle: AIT chief
Eating U.S. beef safer than riding motorcycle: AIT chief
Eating U.S. beef safer than riding motorcycle: AIT chief

Eating beef from the United States is safer than riding a motorcycle in Taiwan, American Institute in Taiwan Director William Stanton said yesterday amid the rising backlash against the government's decision to allow the meat imports.
Local governments, lawmakers and consumers' rights groups have condemned last week's agreement to let in beef offal, ground beef and spinal cords, thought to carry the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease.
"Last year in Taiwan, 1,034 people died on motor scooters out of a population of 23 million," Stanton told reporters, saying that maybe people should stop riding scooters since it was more dangerous than eating beef.
Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang later described the remark as "not very suitable."
Stanton rejected demands to renegotiate the beef agreement, saying the U.S. meet had been declared safe by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and that the accord with Taiwan stuck to the same standard as an earlier one with South Korea and 50 other nations.
The Presidential Office said the agreement between the U.S. and Taiwan was more strict than the one Washington signed with South Korea last year, but lawmakers disputed the claim. The Legislative Yuan is scheduled to question the government official blamed by the opposition for the beef deal, National Security Council Secretary-General Su Chi, today.
Residents of the U.S. and foreign visitors all ate U.S. beef, Stanton said, adding that his country would not export unsafe products.
He said he understood beef had become a political issue in Taiwan and the public had doubts about its safety, but people should rely on scientific evidence and reject rumors and hearsay.
Stanton's statements came amid actions by local governments to channel the growing backlash against the decision to open up Taiwan's market to the beef products from Nov. 10.
Despite being a member of President Ma Ying-jeou's Kuomintang, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin on yesterday said at least 200 restaurants and stores had joined his alliance refusing to sell the U.S. beef products. At a news conference, he presented the logo to be used by participants in his alliance, a red bar over the cartoon effigy of a cow with a U.S. flag.
Hau announced on Monday that he would invite a total of 15,000 restaurants and stores in the capital to join the alliance. The mayor said he reported to the president and denied there were political motivations behind his actions. Hau is facing re-election at the end of next year.
Five major import-export associations announced yesterday they would not import questionable U.S. beef products as long as the public still expressed doubts about their health risks.
Premier Wu Den-yih told reporters he respected the actions of local governments and private organizations, since everyone was free to eat U.S. beef or not. People could choose to smoke or not, and choose to ride a motorcycle or not, he said.
The Kaohsiung City Government said it would request supermarkets to set up separate U.S. beef areas, with all the packaging showing the country of origin. Even restaurants would have to add the country names on their menus, officials said. Mayor Chen Chu said she would bring up the subject at the next Cabinet meeting.
Kaohsiung County Magistrate Yang Chiu-hsing ordered schools not to serve U.S. beef for lunch and shops to list the country of origin on their beef products.
Taichung Mayor Jason Hu, a prominent member of the KMT, said that on demand of the public, Taiwan's third city would also consider following the capital's example. Hu said he was sure President Ma Ying-jeou would not object.
He had asked city government officials to study how other cities and counties handled the beef issue, before announcing a set of measures for Taichung after a few days of consideration, Hu said.
Taipei County Magistrate Chou Hsi-wei described Taipei City's action as premature, saying the central government should be encouraged to renegiotate last week's agreement with Washington. Chou also questioned the effectiveness of launching checks to track down the risky beef products.
The nation's top government watchdog, the Control Yuan, was reportedly preparing to look into the decision-making process behind the deal with the U.S., after accusations that Taiwan only gave in to Washington's demands in return for the reopening on wide trade and investment negotiations.

Updated : 2021-07-24 15:37 GMT+08:00