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Not time to fix U.S. beef issue through executive order: premier

2012/06/16 20:52:50

Taipei, June 16 (CNA) There is currently no need for discussion overwhether an executive order is necessary to allow imports of U.S. beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, Premier Sean Chen said Saturday.

The legislature will hold inter-party negotiations next week tohammer out ways to resolve the U.S. beef problem through an extraordinary legislative session, Chen said, adding that he expects the talks toproceed in a "positive direction" that will allow lawmakers to put theissue to a vote.

He said a vote on an amendment to the Act Governing FoodSanitation -- which the beef controversy is related to -- should be given priority over an executive order.

"Hopefully, a constructive result will take place under the leadership of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng," Chen said.

After days of an opposition boycott of legislative proceedings, some ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers had proposed that the Executive Yuan should issue an executive order to lift the import ban.

The vote on whether to lift the ban was originally scheduled forJune 12, but opposition lawmakers, mostly from theDemocratic Progressive Party (DPP), had occupied the podium of the Legislature since June 11 to boycott the session.

The U.S. beef issue has been hotly debated in Taiwan over the past few months.

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

Government officials have argued that the decision factors in public health and that there is no scientific evidence of anyone ever having fallen ill after consuming meat containing "certain allowed levels" of ractopamine.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)