Taiwanese Protest Against U.S. Beef

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Thousands of people marched on the Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s office on Nov. 14 to protest against the lifting a ban on U.S. beef ban that has triggered fears of mad cow disease.

Activists organized by the opposition party magistrate from the southern county of Tainan shouted: “No deception, resume negotiation,” and waved banners that read: “Oppose toxic beef, oppose Mad Cow,” as they held posters of cattle in their hands.

A public furore over fears of the disease has handed President Ma Ying-jeou his biggest crisis since the government’s perceived slow response to a deadly typhoon in August.

“We want to show the government and related departments our outrage over the beef policy,” said Chen Kun-tai, director of the county’s office in Taipei. “The content of and the process are impossible to accept. It’s a question of mad cow disease.”

According to new rules announced in late October, imports of any meat from cattle under 30 months of age will soon be allowed.

As officials prepared to lift the ban, the ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) has faced criticism from Taiwan trade groups, the main opposition party and within its own ranks.

The most recent U.S. mad cow case occurred in March 2006. The caseload worldwide dropped from 37,000 in 1992 to under 300 in 2006, according to the World Organization for Animal Health.

As the KMT faces tough local elections next month, the government has apologized for poor communication before lifting the ban and pledged to ramp up inspections to detect any disease in U.S. beef imports.

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