Alexa

President Ma calls emergency NSC meeting as beef issue burned up

President Ma calls emergency NSC meeting as beef issue burned up

Controversy over imports of US beef containing leanness-enhancing additives continues to burned up. President Ma Ying-jeou met Sunday with the National Security Council to discuss the beef issue, the second time within three days, indicating the situation becoming complicated.
Ma reiterated his stance that any government decision should be based on professional analysis using scientific data and that the discussions should hear the voice of the public. Ma’s Three No’s’ about the beef issue, namely that there were no promises to US about an end to the ban, there was no timetable, and the government held no predetermined stance on the ban, remained unchanged, presidential spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi told reporters .
Ma’s last meeting with the NSC, however, the atmosphere was said to be tense and discussions went straight to the point, indicating President Ma believed that the situation was more than somewhat urgent.
An opposition party lawmaker Sunday outlineda proposed amendment to the food safety act, focusing on thetransparency of inspection results and thespeedy
government actionagainst companies that fail food safety checks.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yao Wen-chih’s proposal toamend Article 29 of the Act Governing Food Sanitation came amidofficial discussions on the safety of ractopamine.As the leanness-enhancing drug is allowed in the United State but outlawed in Taiwan, U.S. beef found to contain the drug has been banned from entering Taiwan. The beef issue between the two countrieshas become the source of much heated debate.
The draft amendment requires regulators to publish food safety inspection results on a monthly basis to ensure the public remainsinformed, Yao said.
Local governments responsible for carrying out inspections should increase the frequency of food safety checks when necessary and publish the results immediately, according to Yao’s draft bill.
Yao also criticized the government for being slow in following its own regulations introduced in November 2009, which stipulate that beef importers’ operations should be immediately suspended if tainted products have been discovered twice among their supplies.
Thus, Yao proposed to amend Article 29 to include the government’s current regulations to ensure swift action to safeguard the public’s health.
In addition, Yao’s proposal suggests the suspension regulation be expanded to include any food product that poses a health risk, and gives the Legislature the power to decide which product falls into this category.
A third round of inter-ministry hearings featuring dispositions by health and nutrition experts was held last Saturday, offering a forum for discussion of the leanness-enhancing additive ractopamine and standards for imported beef from the US and other areas.
Opposition groups in the Legislative Yuan joined forces on last Friday to push through a fourth reading of revisions to the Food Hygiene Management Act, demanding that the bill include a zero-tolerance ban on ractopamine.
They were supported by more than 2/3 of the assembly, putting even greater on the Ma administration to act on the issue of imports.
The Legislative Yuan met February 2 and quickly passed the proposal brought by the People First Party, DPP whip Wu Ping-jui, KMT lawmakers Cheng Ru-fen and Huang Chao-shun and others to send the fourth reading with a “ractopamine zero-tolerance ban” to committee.
The committee will meet for substantive examination of the bill at the soonest. The amended bill elevates the “zero-tolerance ban” to the status of law, effectively blocking the way for a lifting of the ban on US beef imports by executive action.
The Executive Yuan now faces a severe test in its plans to resolve the beef issue before the Legislative Yuan adjourns in June.
Huang Chao-shun and Cheng Ru-fen have indicated publicly that most people in Taiwan want the Legislative Yuan to utilize its strength to block imports of beef with ractopamine residues.
Huang and Cheng presented petitions signed by 15 and 23 KMT legislators respectively in support of the proposal, for a total of 32 KMT lawmakers discounting duplicates on the two lists. This is more than half of the KMT delegation, and together with the DPP and TSU’s 43 and three from the PFP, the “Anti US-beef and ractopamine” movement can count on 78 lawmakers for support, more than 2/3 of the full assembly.