Greens: Blues obstructing food safety law revision
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-13 04:10 PM
The Legislative Yuan’s current session draws to an end Tuesday with little hope that amendments to the Food Sanitation Law will pass the second and third readings before legislators call it quits. DPP Legislator Tien Chiu-chin held a press conference Monday in which she asserted that ruling party legislators are working to protect certain ‘black-hearted’ merchants. Also participating in the press conference was Tan Tun-tsu, widow of the late toxicologist Lin Chieh-liang of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, who noted that her husband had advocated legislation regulating the use of certain compounds and additives in food. Tan called on the Legislative Yuan to act quickly in amending the laws to put teeth in regulations governing the food industry. Otherwise, she said, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Food and Drug Agency will be "toothless cats that no mouse fears."

Tian Chiu-chin pointed out that major changes to the laws include a new section on management of genetically modified (GM) foods as well as an additional set of food safety regulations regarding food additives. She noted that ruling and opposition parties have not yet reached a consensus on aspects dealing with burden of proof while other negotiated sections have already been ironed out. Tian said the results of a committee chaired by KMT Legislator Wu Yu-sheng last week have not even been placed on the Legislative Yuan agenda and asked whether some lawmakers were deliberately dragging their feet to make life easier for manufacturers.

Tian said the amendments of the laws are needed to close up a gap that has Taiwan lagging ten years behind Europe and Japan in dealing with GM foods. There are many areas where stronger laws are needed, she said, to prevent future food crises like the ones concerning melamine, clouding agents, plasticizers, copper chlorophyll and other notorious food additives that have threatened the health and well-being of the people of Taiwan.

Tan added that Lin Chieh-liang was particularly concerned about the use of "compound additives" such as maleic acid and copper chlorophyll in foods and the need for laws to outlaw such practices. She admitted that she had never participated in a Legislative Yuan press conference, but wanted to lend her voice to the cries of people who are urging legislators to amend the laws.

A spokesperson for the KMT contended that there was no intent on the part of the party to obstruct any of the amendments to the Food Safety Law. The spokesperson said the problem lay with scheduling in the Legislative Yuan and the need to deal with the central government budget for 2014 and an organizational reform bill. Unless an extraordinary session were to be held, he claimed, it will be too late to amend the law in the face of other more pressing legislation.

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