Why BSE in one Irish cow worries China - and spells trouble for farmers

Just as the massive Chinese market had opened up for Irish beef, it closed again

Listen | 16:54

For Irish beef producers, China is a prize – capture that vast market and the troubled sector is secure. And Chinese influence in Asia means cracking that market is the key to opening others in the region such as South Korea.

The Chinese though – mindful of the horrific global health crisis around beef in the 1990s – have a zero tolerance of BSE, a bovine disease that when it enters the food chain causes deadly CJD in humans. It closed its market to Irish beef three years ago when a case of BSE was found and it had only recently reopened when last week it was announced that a case of atypical BSE had been found in an Irish cow.

The Chinese immediately shut down Irish beef imports. As farmer and agri journalist Hannah Quinn-Mulligan explains, it’s a massive reputational blow for Irish beef, and a major worry for Irish farmers. Presented by Bernice Harrison. Produced by Declan Conlon.

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison

Bernice Harrison is an Irish Times journalist and cohost of In the News podcast