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Cabinet hopes legislature will pass U.S. beef bill in extra session

2012/06/15 23:23:45

Taipei, June 15 (CNA) The Cabinet said late Friday that it hopes the legislature will pass amendments to a food safety act in an extra legislative session, to pave the way for the imports of U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.

In a statement, the Cabinet also expressed regret over the legislature's failure to put the beef issue before the current legislative session, which ended on Friday. The amendments were not put to a vote because lawmakers of the opposition parties had boycotted the issue for five consecutive days since June 11.

The Cabinet statement came after a meeting among senior government officials who met on Friday evening to discuss how to resolve the beef issue.

Legislators of the prime opposition Democratic Progressive Party,the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party have cited food safety concerns as the main reason for their opposition to the government's plan to lift the ban on beef containing traces of the drug.

In March, the government decided to conditionally lift the ban on such U.S. beef imports, saying Taiwan would specify a safe level of ractopamine, issue separate permits for the import of beef and pork, mandate the labeling of beef imports, and exclude imports of beef organs.

However, many people opposed the decision.

Government officials have argued that the decision takes into consideration public health and that there is no scientific evidence indicating people fall ill after consuming meat containing "certain allowed levels" of ractopamine.

(By Elaine Hou)