Don’tbemad,please

<>Democratic Progressive Party leaders are up in arms against the administration for signing a protocol of bovine spongiform encephalopathy -related measures for the importation of beef and beef products for human consumption from the territory of the authorities represented by the American Institute in Taiwan .Now let’s forget about those high-sounding words about the imports.Simply put, the agreement signed on last Thursday is about Taiwan’s purchase of beef and beef products from the United States that may – less than once in a blue moon -- cause deadly mad cow disease.

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<>Not just the opposition but quite a number of the ruling Kuomintang are against the agreement, charging the Department of Health and the Council of Agriculture with concluding an unequal treaty, like the ones the Great QingEmpire was compelled to ink at the end of the Opium War of 1839 and thereafter.Even Mayor of Taipei Hau Lung-bin registered his strong objection to the importation of risky beef and beef products. They are all overreacting, however.

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<>For one thing, the protocol isn’t an unequal treaty.It wasn’t forced upon Taiwan by the American Institute in Taiwan.The representative of the MoD negotiated with her American counterpart on an equal footing.

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<>Of course, opponents may pick faults, accusing her of failing to protect Taiwan’s public health against an onslaught of mad cow disease.But the fact is that there won’t be any BSE invasion.Specified risk materials are placed under special control.They include the distal ileum of the small intestine, the tonsils from cattle of all ages, the brain, skull, eyes, trigeminal ganglia, spinal cord, vertebral column, and dorsal root ganglia from cattle 30 months of age and older.Offal is a common word for those specified risk materials.

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<>That means the offal can be rejected on import, if some beef dealers really want to buy it from the United States.As a matter of fact, very few, if any, dealers want to import such beef products even from Australia at much lower prices, for the simple reason that Chinese on Taiwan have little taste for them.Have you ever heard of any restaurant in Taipei offering eyes or spinal cords of an ox as a dish to attract clients?

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<>There’s no 100 percent guarantee that other less risky beef and beef products won’t victimize a gourmet or gastronome.But one has to know that most of the Han Chinese on Taiwan prefer pork to beef, for they believe oxen used to do heavy work in tilling land and therefore shouldn’t be slaughtered for their meat.Buddhists – most of the people here think they are – believe in ahimsa, which prohibits killing of any sentient beings, including cattle, swine and poultry.In other words, a very small minority of our people would take the risk of eating beef and beef products that pose any BSE threat.

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<>That’s why Chen Wu-hsiung, chairman of the Council of Agriculture, told lawmakers yesterday he would gladly and happily eat any imported risky American beef and beef products.He put his family on the line, too.His family members would, just like him, eat such products, he promised.But he made a gaffe.He said he doesn’t advise people to eat them.There is no reason why he should say so.People who do not like to eat beef know what to do without being given any admonition.

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<>We wish to call on our public health-conscious legislators not to worry.Their taking the administration to task is already more than enough warning to even “beef-eaters” – not the yeomen of the Tower of London – not to risk a one-in-a-million chance to get mad cow disease by going to chic steak houses to order a fat T-bone steak for a dinner.

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<>One thing all opponents to the protocol have to keep in mind is that it has already been signed.If it is regarded as an agreement or treaty, the lawmakers may refuse to ratify it.Well, that’s the power the Constitution gives them.If not, they may legislate some countermeasures to make sure no one will get mad cow disease. We do not want them to force the administration to renegotiate a new protocol, albeit we believe they don’t have that in mind.

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<>On the other hand, we are certain that the opposition is opposing for opposition’s sake.Democratic Progressive Party leaders, from its chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen on down, are more than happy to seize what they believe is a golden opportunity to embarrass President Ma Ying-jeou.Had the protocol been signed while President Chen Shui-bian was in office, no one in the now opposition would have raised any objection.Remember Chen has recently self-styled himself as an agent of the U.S. military government on Taiwan who had to take orders from the AIT in Taiwan?

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<>Please also remember what the United States has done for keeping Taiwan as it is now.Without its help, there’s no Republic of China on Taiwan.There would never have been any economic takeoff that created many a steak lover in the first place.The United States is the only country in the world that may come to our help if and when hostilities break out across the Taiwan Street.Taiwan owes Uncle Sam so much that it must accept the benign protocol which its opponents describe as a treaty that humiliates the country.

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