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Taiwanese Protest Resumption of US Beef Imports

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Thousands of Taiwanese took to the streets of Taipei Saturday to protest the government's decision to lift a six-year ban on imports of some kinds of beef from the United States.

Activists demanded a trade pact with the United States be renegotiated to prohibit some cuts of beef believed to cause mad cow disease.

President Ma Ying-jeou said last month that his government had reached an agreement with the United States on measures to protect the health of consumers of U.S. beef. He said those included stricter U.S. quality controls at the point of origin and allowing Taiwan veterinarians to inspect U.S. slaughterhouses.

Under a deal signed on October 22, Taiwan agreed to lift a six-year ban on imports of U.S. beef-on-the-bone, minced beef and cow organs from cattle younger than 30 months.

Some critics of the agreement in Taiwan have threatened to boycott the imports, which resumed on November 10.

Taiwan banned all U.S. beef imports in 2003 after mad cow disease was found in a U.S. herd of cattle. It partially eased the ban in 2006 to permit U.S. imports of boneless beef, believed to be free of any health risk.

Mad cow disease is a brain-wasting illness in cattle that can cause a fatal condition in humans known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.