The United States is continuing to challenge Taiwan's ban on meat imports containing residue of the leanness enhancer ractopamine at the World Trade Organization (WTO), a WTO official said.
In a meeting of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures Committee held in Geneva, the US, Canada and Brazil repeated their positions that scientific evidence shows ractopamine to be safe, including findings from the Joint Export Committee on Food Additives under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization.
The three countries are urging Taiwan to proceed with its introduction of a minimum residue level (MRL) for imports, which Taiwan notified the WTO of planning in 2007.
Taiwan, under former President Chen Shui-bian, had planned to set a MRL of 10 parts per billion for ractopamine in beef and pork and notified the WTO about the plan in 2007. The government, however, later decided to delay the adoption and notified the WTO of the decision later that year.
The ractopamine issue has been discussed in several SPS Measures Committee meetings since October 2008, when it was first raised as a specific trade concern by the United States about Taiwan's ban on imports of meat from ractopamine-fed animals.
The US pressure on Taiwan to lift the ban on meat import of animals fed ractopamine has been increasingly lately, and is an issue of great domestic consternation in Taiwan. The ban has become a central issue in the stalled US-Taiwan trade talks.
Taiwan’s pig farmers in particular, who had given up using ractopamine ten years ago, are protesting the government’s move towards lifting the ban. They plan to protest on April 1st, condemning the government’s stance on food saftey policy.