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Focus on safety and sustainability of Irish Food Production at Sino Irish Forum in Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences

A dedicated Sino Irish Forum on building a 'Safe and Sustainable Future for Food'  was held today in the  Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences (CAAS) as part of the week long trade mission to China led by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD.

Speaking afterwards, Minister Coveney stated that this Forum served to highlight and build awareness in China amongst key officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Chinese Administration of Quarantine Supervision and Inspection Services (AQSIQ) as well as key opinion informers and policy makers in China, of the high level of official control measures applied to the production of Irish food products and the science underpinning the efficiency and sustainability of Irish food production.

The forum brought together distinguished Chinese scientists on food production and climate change.  Keynote addresses were delivered by Dr Lin Erda, the Director of Research on Agriculture and Climate Change from CASS, and Professor Ye Zhihua, Director General of the Institute of Quality Standards and Testing technology for Argo products CASS. Along with Minister Coveney, speakers from the Irish side included Mr Martin Blake, Chief Veterinary Officer at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dr Frank O Mara, Director of Research at Teagasc and Mr Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive Officer of Bord Bia.

Minister Coveney stated that the forum represented a clear manifestation of the deepening of co-operation between Ireland and  China in the agriculture sector and is a practical expression of Chinese Vice President Xi's stated desire when he visited Ireland for increased levels of co-operation between both countries in  agriculture. The Chinese side particularly identified a number of potential collaborative research areas such as animal genetics, residue monitoring and the broader issue of sustainable production methods.

In conclusion, Minister Coveney stated "Irish farmers have one of the best sustainability stories in Europe and the wider world.  We are perceived to be 'green' and when measured scientifically we are found to be 'green'.  Research published by the EU Commission last year corroborates national research showing that Ireland has the lowest carbon footprint of meat and dairy production in Europe.  Our mild climate produces grass growth for most of the year.  It is perhaps our 'green jade'."

He went on to say "Ireland has invested over many decades on the development of its economically important agri-food and fisheries sectors. We now have a sector, grounded on a safe, efficient, and sustainable production of quality foodstuffs and beverages, gearing up for a major growth phase. The sector is supported in a strategic way by Government through my Department and state agencies to facilitate its continued development. Not alone are we in a position to sustainably grow but equally important we are open to share the experiences we gained in developing the agri food sector."

Minister Coveney and the delegation then travelled to Quingdao where the focus will shift to fisheries and seafood with a meeting this evening with the Chinese Academy for Fisheries Science.

Sino Irish Forum 1 PR 79/12 - 17.04.2012 Sino Irish Forum 2 PR 79/12 - 17.04.12

Sino Irish Forum 3 PR 79/12 - 17.04.2012 Sino Irish Forum 4 PR 79/12 - 17.04.2012

Minister Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Chair of the Sino Irish Forum, President of the Chinese Academy of Agri Sciences Prof Jiayang Li meeting prior to the commencement of the Forum.

Date Released: 17 April 2012