Scientific American under fire for promoting Taiwan's new policy for US pork imports

Science magazine criticized for publishing unproven statements about ractopamine in ad paid for by Taiwanese government

Scientific American accused of promoting ractopamine in government ad. (Pixabay photo)

Scientific American accused of promoting ractopamine in government ad. (Pixabay photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An ad published by Taiwan's Council of Agriculture (COA) on a Facebook page for the magazine Scientific American has sparked controversy for allegedly making unproven assertions to defend the Taiwanese government's lifting of restrictions on U.S. pork imports containing ractopamine.

On Saturday (Sept. 19), the Taiwan division of the popular American science magazine posted an ad on Facebook suggesting that ractopamine is eco-friendly and can help hog farmers increase their profits. The ad also claimed that the lean meat additive was banned in Taiwan because products that contain it taste worse than those that do not and that the ban had allowed the country's pork producers to remain competitive in the international market.

As soon as it was published, the ad drew strong criticism from Taiwanese netizens who questioned the scientific basis for the statements as well as the professionalism of the magazine. Many Taiwanese suspect the ad to be more political than scientific and that it was aimed at defending the Tsai administration's recent decision to import U.S. pork containing ractopamine.

On Monday (Sept. 21), Scientific American removed the ad and issued an apology for neglecting scientific principles and media ethics. It said the advertisement fee has been refunded to the COA and that it will not make similar mistakes in the future, according to Global Views Monthly.

Meanwhile, COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) emphasized that the controversial statements had not been included in the information the COA had provided to Scientific American. He said the COA had been contacted by the magazine about an opportunity for cooperation but that the agency had only provided facts and government policies related to ractopamine, reported UDN.

This was not the only partisan post released by Scientific American lately. On Sept. 15, the American edition of the magazine published an ad supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president, which was interpreted by some readers as an example of "politics interfering with science," reported Liberty Times.