Thursday, June 14, 2012

RactoBeef update

Rain still continues..... it is hard to believe the heavens could hold this much water. Luckily the typhoon looks to be swinging past us moving north a distance from Taiwan, according to info that my man The Bushman has posted on his typhoon blog.

As a number of commentators on the US beef dispute have noted, the real issue isn't beef, but pork. If Taiwan permits dope-laden beef  to come in, then under its WTO agreements it must also permit ractopamine-laced pork to enter as well. That is why pork farmers in Taiwan are up in arms. While Taiwan produces little beef, meaning that US beef hurts few locals, it produces lots of pork, meaning that US pork is real threat to local livelihoods (excellent TT editorial on this very topic). Media reports say Taiwan is now moving toward a formula to finesse this issue:
Taiwan will separate the permits for importing beef and pork if it decides to open its doors to ractopamine-fed meat from the United States, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday.

Referring to a set of guidelines announced by President Ma Ying-jeou to partially allow imports of beef containing the leanness-enhancer ractopamine, Steve Hsia, the ministry’s deputy spokesman, said that“our policy is very clear.”

“The guidelines include: A safe level of ractopamine in beef; separating the permits for importing beef and pork; clearly labeling beef imports; and excluding imports of internal organs,” he said in a routine press conference.

Hsia’s remarks came amid media reports that several U.S. lawmakers have been urging U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration to press Taiwan to allow imports of both beef and pork containing ractopamine.

In March, 68 U.S. lawmakers appealed to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the restrictions Taiwan has placed on U.S. beef pork imports, which they described as not being based on science.
Isn't it wonderful to hear US government officials from an administration that has done nada on climate change, continued funding abstinence-only sex stupidity, and thinks fracking is a really good idea complaining that somebody else's policy is not based on science?

If the Ma Administration's labeling policy is carried out for real and local restaurants are conscientious about posting the origins of their meat, then perhaps US beef and pork may be avoidable. Haha -- how could I write that last sentence with a straight face? Note also that if ractopamine-laced beef from Uncle Sam's beef factories are permitted into Taiwan, then other nations will be able to dump their ractoburgers in Taiwan as well which means there will likely be no trustworthy beef in Taiwan. Even if other nations don't send ractosteaks here, restaurant patrons will never be able to be sure that they aren't getting US beef even when they order some other nation's products. Although the New Zealand representative office here says ractopamine is illegal in NZ, as do the Aussies, the Taiwan DOH claimed it has found it in NZ and Aussie beef (I seem to remember they backed off this claim but can't find the report UPDATE: maddog has the skinny in comment below, was US beef mislabeled. Thanks man!). Given all the issues with beef, especially US beef, this writer has pretty much stopped eating the stuff.

REF: AIT's 'fact sheet' on ractopamine is here.
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Tim Maddog said...

Michael, you wrote:
- - -
[…] Taiwan DOH claimed it has found it in NZ and Aussie beef (I seem to remember they backed off this claim but can't find the report).
- - -

You might be thinking of this news:
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美國牛誆稱澳洲牛 衛生局將嚴格稽查

My translation:
US beef falsely labeled as Australian, health bureau to step up inspections.
- - -

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

Whoa not mislabeled! Fraudulently labeled as Aussie beef. Yet another very good reason to ban US beef.

Anonymous said...

So you think the AIT "fact sheet" is b.s.?

Eat organic and eat less meat -- good for you and good for the planet. But even if you do eat a fair amount of meat, ractopamine doesn't seem like it should be anyone's biggest worry.

Tim Maddog said...

Correct, 9:36 AM anonymous. "Fraudulently labeled" is quite different from "mislabeled." Words do mean things.

Tim Maddog

Michael Turton said...

So you think the AIT "fact sheet" is b.s.?|

With one human study of six people? Don't make me laugh. It reads like it was written by the beef industry.

Anyway, as you say, it's not like I lose sleep over it. In any case, I gave up on beef before this became an issue.