Taipei – Thousands of people demonstrated on the streets of Taipei on Sunday, demanding a reversal of the decision to allow US pork to be imported to Taiwan, citing food safety problems.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration lifted a long-running ban on US pork and beef imports in August, in a move seen as one of the first steps toward possible negotiation of a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. The ban is set to be lifted in January.
This decision met with fierce opposition, both on the part of the opposition Kuomintang Party and from individual citizens. The new policy allows the import of pork with an acceptable residue of ractopamine, a drug added to animal feed that promotes the growth of lean meat that some farmers use in pigs.
The drug is banned by the European Union, but legal in the United States.
The demonstrators marched in front of the Presidency of the Republic, as part of an annual labor rally.
Kelvin Chen, a 54-year-old computer engineer who was on the march, said, “I came here today to oppose importing ractopamine. I feel these days that many of those in business are not ethical. For us as normal consumers, we will not, as individuals, have a way to know where the pork comes from.
“I have a baby and when we eat things that contain ractopamine, it’s not good for our bodies,” said Jackie Tsui, a 37-year-old factory worker. “I hope the government will see that we the citizens are against this.”
The Associated Press video journalist Taijing Wu contributed to the report.
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