DPP proposes referendum on beef leanness enhancer

By Enru Lin ,The China Post

The China Post–Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) yesterday proposed to place the ractopamine ban under a national referendum. The formulation of Wu’s proposed referendum is as follows: “Do you agree with replacing the current ban on U.S. beef containing ractopamine, with a policy based on a maximum residual limit (MRL)?” The Codex Alimentarius compiled by the United Nations and Food and World Health Organization currently does not use a standard MRL, said Wu in a press briefing at the Legislative Yuan. Moreover, the U.S. does not push its beef products containing the feed additive to mainland China and to the European Union. “Only to Taiwan,” he said. Wu continued, if the ruling administration wants the Taiwanese people to accept ractopamine, “the Taiwanese people must be allowed to make the choice themselves.” Article Two of Taiwan’s Referendum Act allows the “initiative of referendum on important policies.” Article Ten stipulates that at least five out of every 1000 eligible voters must sign the proposal before it goes on to the next stage of the endorsement process. Threshold Too High: TSU, PFP Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) caucus whip Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) and People First Party (PFP) Legislator Thomas Lee (李桐豪) expressed doubts that the proposal will scale its first hurdle. Said Lin, she backs Wu in the initiative, but believes that it won’t easily meet an endorsement threshold that is “too high.” PFP’s Lee responded likewise that proposing a referendum is “too great a difficulty.” Added Lee, a plebiscite that begins and then fails may be interpreted as a sanction on all U.S. beef imports. The ractopamine dispute is better resolved via the amendment process, he said. Beef a ‘professional’

Problem: KMT KMT Policy Committee head Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) responded that the dispute over U.S. beef is a “professional problem” that must be resolved by more than public opinion. “Before making a decision, we must hear out a wide range of opinions — especially professional opinions — on how to protect the people’s health. Another important thing is our industrial development — the development of the U.S.-Taiwan economic and trade.” “Do we need to undergo a referendum? And if a referendum were held for every issue, is government still able to run the country? These must all be considered,” he said. Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) of the Council of Agriculture (農委會) declined to comment on the referendum proposal.