Asian nations look at free trade's impact on health amid tainted milk scare
(Associated Press –
By JIM GOMEZ
Southeast Asian countries should strengthen their
regulations to shield people from potentially harmful food and agricultural
products that move easily across borders in the era of free trade, health
officials said Thursday.
The scandal over tainted Chinese milk and dairy products was expected to be
raised in a two-day meeting of health ministers from the 10-member
Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila, Philippine Health Secretary
Francisco Duque III said.
Duque told The Associated Press the ministers strongly condemned
"unscrupulous business practice and cover-up" in the scandals
surrounding melamine-laced milk, and agreed that ASEAN members should
strengthen mechanisms for consultation and exchange of information to prevent
"Presently, our governments are confronted with the fear engendered by
melamine milk products finding their way into our local markets," Duque
said separately in a speech. "Such is the trade-off of globalization —
that is, a globalization without effective and coordinated global governance."
The ministers plan to ask senior diplomats to study the impact of
international trade accords, including those ASEAN has forged with China, Japan
and South Korea,
on health and national health policies, according to the draft statement, a
copy of which was seen by The Associated Press.
has pledged to ban milk and food products that do not meet the country's new
standards for permissible levels of melamine.
Its food exports have suffered since milk and dairy products laced with
melamine were linked to the deaths of four Chinese babies and the sickening
of more than 54,000 others. More than 30 countries, including those in
Southeast Asia, have banned, recalled or found contamination in dairy
products from China.
officials found melamine traces in three more Chinese-made food products,
including milk powder and Cadbury-brand candies, according to Singapore's
Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.
has banned Chinese-made milk or food with milk as an ingredient since Sept.