Taiwan group vows referendum to block US beef


A stall owner prepares Taiwanese beef at a market in Taipei. A rights advocacy group on the island has vowed to push for a referendum in a bid to block the import of more US beef products over health concerns.

A stall owner prepares Taiwanese beef at a market in Taipei. A rights advocacy group on the island has vowed to push for a referendum in a bid to block the import of more US beef products over health concerns.

A Taiwanese rights advocacy group on Sunday vowed to push for a referendum in a bid to block the import of more US beef products over health concerns.

“We will initiate the referendum to demand the government re-negotiate with the US on the beef agreement … which clearly jeopardises consumers’ lives,” the Consumers’ Foundation said.

“We urge other non-governmental groups to join our referendum drive and the public to boycott US beef on the bone,” it said in a statement.

According to referendum laws, the foundation needs to collect more than 860,000 signatures in order to put the matter to a vote.

Taiwan’s decision to relax curbs on US beef on the bone and cow organs last month sparked controversy due to concerns over mad cow diseases.

Observers say Washington may have used the beef issue as a bargaining chip in its talks with Taipei over the purchase of dozens of US-made F-16 fighters as well as a framework trade and investment agreement.

Taiwan banned all US beef imports in December 2003 after reports of mad cow disease there but it opened up to boneless beef imports in 2006 while keeping other offal restrictions in place.

Beef affected by the disease is feared to cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a human variant of mad cow disease.

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