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Role of Teagasc in underpinning Irish food production and processing outlined at Sino Irish Forum in Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences  

A Sino Irish Forum on building a 'Safe and Sustainable Future for Food' was held on Tuesday 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.

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 CAAS, and Professor Ye Zhihua, Director General of the Institute of Quality Standards and Testing Technology for Agro products CAAS. Along with Minister Coveney, speakers from the Irish side included Dr Frank O Mara, Director of Research at Teagasc, Mr Martin Blake, Chief Veterinary Officer at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and Mr Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive Officer of Bord Bia.

At the seminar, Dr. O’Mara outlined the role of science in developing and improving our food production and processing systems. He said that “we have strong scientific capability across the full food chain from soils to food for health. Soils and climatic conditions in Ireland are excellent for pasture growth, and this gives Ireland a competitive advantage in dairy, beef and sheep production. This is due to the low cost of pasture as a feed compared to grain, and the environmental, animal welfare and health benefits of milk and meat which are associated with grass-based production.” He also emphasised the strenghts of Irish research in grassland science, animal breeding and genetics, soils, environmental sustainability, food research, and rural economics.

A bilateral meeting was also held between Teagasc and CAAS on Monday to discuss research areas of mutual interest. This meeting and the Sino Irish Forum represent first steps in developing agriculture and food research collaboration between Teagasc and the CAAS. Areas of particular interest to CAAS include animal breeding and genetics, residue monitoring and the broader issue of sustainable production methods. Further discussions will take place over the coming months to explore these areas in more detail.