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COA opens 3rd meeting about U.S. beef to outside viewing

COA opens 3rd meeting about U.S. beef to outside viewing

The Council of Agriculture for the first time allowed reporters and members of the public to follow the discussions between experts about the problem of leanness drugs in meat from the United States Saturday.
After strong protests and even a walkout by a professor, the COA agreed that reporters would be able to follow the proceedings of its third meeting on TV screens. A total of 13 academics were expected to turn up, but six others were not coming, reports said. Pig farmers planning a protest in Taipei on March 8 also viewed the proceedings.
The meeting came under fire for reportedly using data collected 20 years ago, while a representative of the opponents of the drug ractopamine threw doubt on the impartiality and the authoritativeness of the invited experts.
The experts came to the conclusion that pigs fed ractopamine were more likely to attack each other, COA Minister Chen Bao-ji said. The meeting also decided to drop a statement that “for over ten years, there have been no evidence that people showed side effects after consuming meat,” reports said.
Saturday’s discussion included academics noted for their criticism of the government. “Ractopamine is a medical drug, and cannot be considered as a type of food just because it is mixed in with animal fodder,” said physician Hsu Li-min.
Chang Gung Memorial Hospital toxicologist Lin Ja-liang said that research in China had shown that ractopamine left traces in the intestines of pigs, while the European Union warned against its effects on consumers with heart and arteries problems.
National Taiwan University veterinarian Chou Chin-cheng said the drug also affected the animal’s health and caused it to become more aggressive and collapse.
Outside, consumers’ rights activists protested with placards using the term Pay-Linsanity, a play of words on Paylean, the commercial name for ractopamine, and Linsanity, the craze surrounding Taiwanese-American basketball star Jeremy Lin. Protesters said that even agricultural authorities in the US had voiced doubts about the impact of ractopamine.
At a separate event, former Department of Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang told reporters it would not be fitting or wise for President Ma Ying-jeou to be obstinate under US pressure and handle the beef issue according to his own wishes, because he would have to pay a price for it. He also said the COA-hosted meetings could not bear any results because the experts would maintain their own different viewpoints about ractopamine.
If even the professionals don’t agree whether or not the drug is harmful to humans, it will be difficult to prove it is harmless, so the decision on whether or not to lift the ban will be political, Yaung said.


Updated : 2021-07-24 01:27 GMT+08:00