Pig farmers to protest use of animal drug

TAIPEI - Local hog farmers will demonstrate Aug. 21 in front of the Department of Health (DOH) and the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to protest a DOH decision to ease a ban on ractopamine -- an animal drug that promotes growth of lean meat in pigs or cattle-- under the U.S. pressure, one of their leaders said Wednesday.
calendar icon 16 August 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Speaking at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan called by lawmakers, Yang Her-pei, vice chairman of the Republic of China Swine Association, said that pig farmers are set to stage the demonstration or even vote in the coming legislative and presidential elections against the political parties that disregard the health of Taiwan's people and farmers' livelihoods, if the DOH fails to rescind its decision to remove the ban in the coming days.

The DOH announced Tuesday evening that it will ease its ban to allow a limited use of the animal drug, which was listed last year by the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA) as a banned drug, despite repeated assurances that it would not do so after two shipments of U.S. pork were found last month to contain ractopamine.

Yang suspected that the DOH's decision to relax the ban was a result of pressure from the United States to clear barriers to its pork imports. "Local hog farmers cannot accept this decision which will allow the United States to dump pork containing an illegal substance in Taiwan," he said.

Cheng Hui-wen, director-general of the DOH's Bureau of Sanitation, denied allegation that the DOH's decision to remove the ban on ractompaine was due to U.S. concerns.

Cheng cited the latest scientific evaluation as explaining that some kinds of ractopamine are not harmful to human health and thus raise no food safety concerns for consumers.

Taiwan Solidarity Union lawmakers Yin Ling-ying and Liao Pen-yen,, and main opposition Kuomintang lawmaker Ker Chun-hsiung, threatened to freeze next year's budgets allocated for the DOH and asked Cheng to step down from his post after hearing his explanation.

Yu Kai-hsiung, secretary-general of the Consumers' Foundation, accused Cheng of failing to provide solid evidence to back his rhetoric and said that his foundation will launch a campaign urging local consumers to boycott U.S. pork.

Yu accused the DOH of kow-towing to the United States and described its decision to lift the ban on ractopamine as a "sinister deal" that lacks substantial approval by experts and that will put consumers' health and farmers' livelihoods at great risk.

According to Yu, the Consumers' Foundation will lend its support for pig farmers' demonstration next week to protest the government's softening of its stance regarding the veterinary drug.

Later the same day, an AIT spokesman denied allegation that the institute has pressured Taiwan's authorities to remove the ban.

The AIT is responsible for U.S. dealings with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Further Reading

China Puts U.S. on Notice Over Pork Shipments
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