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Third inter-ministerial meeting on ractopmine opens amid protest

Third inter-ministerial meeting on ractopmine opens amid protest

Taipei, March 3 (CNA) The third inter-ministerial committee meeting on ractopamine opened Saturday as a protest staged by civic groups took place outside the Council of Agriculture (COA), where the meeting was being held. Holding placards and shouting slogans, civic groups said that they refuse to be "guinea pigs" and oppose the idea of lifting the ban on the leanness-enhancing feed additive before substantial scientific evidence prove the drug safe. "The government cannot sacrifice the public's health for political and commercial interests," one of the protesters said. Washington has been pressing Taipei to relax its ban on imported meat containing ractopamine residues that it imposed in 2006. The pressure, however, intensified after President Ma Ying-jeou succeeded in a re-election bid in January's presidential election. The first two committee meetings were previously held in February. A dozen experts from various fields -- food and animal science, biology, psychology and toxology -- attended Saturday's meeting, which is expected to last more than two hours. The list of names was announced to the public after complaints that the government had hand-picked the attendees to endorse their decision. Today's meeting will also be broadcast live to ensure transparency. The four subjects on the agenda are: whether ractopamine has caused 218,000 pigs to suffer from adverse effects -- such as behavioral changes, why the European Union (EU) did not adapt a maximum residue level on the drug, health risks for pregnant women and children, and the kind of problems that people with cardiovascular problems may face. Ractopamine is allowed in feed in 20-plus countries around the world but is banned in Taiwan, China, the EU and other countries. In a telephone interview with CNA a day earlier, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said that it has released scientific material that states the safety of ractopamine. It is available on the AIT's website, said AIT Public Affairs Section Chief Sheila Paskman. The institute represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties. The AIT had said earlier that it wished Taiwan would consider lifting the restriction on meat containing ractopamine based on scientific evidence. (By Nancy Liu)


Updated : 2021-05-17 23:40 GMT+08:00