The Codex Alimentarius Commission finally decided Thursday to set a maximum allowable level of 10 parts per billion for ractopamine residue in beef and pork. This provides a reference for Taiwan, which has been trapped in a political deadlock for months over a proposal to lift a ban on imports of U.S. beef containing traces of the leanness-enhancing drug.
Taiwan has wasted too much time and social costs on the beef issue, so it will be a welcome development if the dispute can be resolved soon.
So far, there has not been any evidence showing that tiny amounts of ractopamine residue are harmful to health. This is the reason why the United States considers Taiwan's ractopamine ban to be a trade barrier.
In other words, this is not only a health issue but also one concerning the promotion of Taiwan-U.S. relations and trade liberalization.
The Legislative Yuan is scheduled to hold an extra session later this month to review a proposed amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation that is aimed at setting a permissible residue level for ractopamine. Following the Codex decision, we hope legislators across party lines will return to reason and find a way to break the deadlock for the sake of Taiwan's overall long-term interests.
The government, meanwhile, must fulfill its gatekeeping duty and block other more toxic kinds of leanness enhancers from entering the market. Only by doing so will the government be able to protect the health of the people and rebuild the public's confidence in its policies.
There is no winner in this ferocious beef war. It should be ended soon so that Taiwan can move forward. (Editorial abstract -- July 7, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)