TThousands of people have protested against imports of American pork in the Taiwanese capital Taipei. Protesters marched in front of the presidential office building on Sunday. The government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen lifted a ban on imports of pork and beef from America in August. The ban will no longer apply in January.
The problem: the change allows pork to be imported with leftovers from the drug ractopamine. The drug is added to animal feed, it is said to contribute to lean meat. It’s banned by the EU and allowed in the United States.
The lifting of the ban is opposed by the largest opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), and many citizens. “I have a child and if we eat things with ractopamine, it is not good for our bodies,” said 37-year-old factory worker Jacky Tsui. “I hope the government can see that we citizens are against it.”
The KMT is now trying to push through a referendum on American pork imports. About 24 million people live in Taiwan. KMT chairman Johnny Chiang asked Tsai to join a televised debate on the subject. “Taiwanese pigs do not eat ractopamine, and now are you asking Taiwanese to do so? Does that make sense? ”He said to followers.
Tsai and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has a large majority in parliament, are defending the American pork decision by bringing the island into line with international standards. This will not endanger food safety, but will strengthen relations between Taiwan and America. The DPP called on the KMT to “stop their political machinations and return to rational discussions”.