Taipei, May 30 (CNA) The legislative caucus of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said Wednesday that Taiwan should follow the European Union model on the importation of U.S. beef.
The DPP will stick to its zero-tolerance stance on residues of the livestock drug ractopamine in U.S. beef imports and Taiwan should learn from the EU and maintain its ban on such imports, the party's caucus whip Pan Meng-an and legislators said at a press conference.
DPP caucus aide Wang Kuei-lien told CNA that under the EU model, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires exporters to work with buyers to ensure that all meat and meat products to be exported to the EU contain zero levels of hormones and muscle growth drugs such as ractopamine.
The DPP legislators also criticized the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) legislative caucus' move to meet with William Stanton, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, to discuss the U.S. beef issue Tuesday.
The DPP said it was a "closed-door" meeting that had hurt the dignity of Taiwan's lawmaking body.
Six KMT legislators, led by the party's Policy Committee chief Lin Hung-chih, said after the meeting with Stanton that resolving the U.S. beef issue will be beneficial to the resumption of talks under the Taiwan-U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
Meanwhile, the Food Safety Alliance, which comprises several civic groups, held a protest outside the Legislature on Wednesday, calling for lawmakers across the party lines to act as strict gatekeepers of food safety.
Chang Hung-lin, director of Citizens Congress Watch, said politicians should not seek "political or economic interests at the expense of the public's health."
All individuals who are opposed to a proposal to allow controlled levels of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine in beef are urged to call their district legislators and ask them to protect food safety, regardless of political persuasion, the alliance said.
The alliance noted that the Cabinet's proposal to allow imports of U.S. beef that contain controlled levels of ractopamine was voted down on May 7 in the legislative Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee.
However, there are still uncertainties because the Cabinet bill, which seeks to amend the Act Governing Food Sanitation, will be sent to the full Legislature in keeping with a multi-partisan agreement reached before the May 7 vote.
The alliance said legislative committees are an important part of the lawmaking process and multi-partisan agreements should not override decisions made in committees.
(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Zoe Wei and Jamie Wang)