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Thousands march through the streets of Taiwan against US pork imports

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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) Thousands of people marched through the streets of Taipeis on Sunday demanding the overturn of a decision to allow imports of American pork into Taiwan, alleging food safety concerns.

President Tsai Ing-wens’ administration lifted a long-standing ban on U.S. pork and beef imports in August, in a measure seen as one of the first steps towards possibly negotiating a bilateral trade deal with the United States The ban is expected to be lifted in January.

The move met fierce opposition, both from the opposition Kuomintang party and from individual citizens. The new policy allows imports of pork meat containing acceptable residues of ractopamine, a drug added to animal feed that promotes the growth of lean meat that some farmers use in pigs.

The drug is banned by the European Union, but it is legal in the United States.

Protesters marched past the presidential office building as part of an annual labor march.

I came here today to oppose the importation of ractopamine, said Kelvin Chen, a 54-year-old computer engineer who walked. I think a lot of people doing business these days are unethical. If they mix American pork with pork from Taiwan and then sell it to us average consumers, we have no way of knowing the source of the pork.

I have a child and when we eat things with ractopamine it is not good for our bodies, said Jacky Tsui, a 37-year-old factory worker. I hope the government will see that we citizens are opposed to it.

Associated Press video reporter Taijing Wu contributed reporting.

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