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Cases of BSE suspend Brazilian beef exports to China

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or in layman’s terms, Mad Cow Disease has reared its ugly head in Brazil once again.

On Friday, it was announced that two cases of “atypical” BSE were found in two different processing locations in the country. Brazil immediately halted its exports to China while it further investigates the situation. This halt is part of bilateral protocol between the two countries. According to the Brazilian Agriculture Ministry, there is no immediate threat to animals of the population at this time.

An atypical case of BSE means that the disease developed spontaneously and that there is no contamination in the food source for cattle. The cases were in the Brazilian states of Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais. They are only the 4th and 5th cases of Atypical BSE ever discovered in the country and the first since 2019.

The World Organization for Animal Health Lab in Alberta, Canada confirmed the cases from samples sent to them. Brazil immediately reported the cases to the organization, in compliance with international procedure.

Brazil is the biggest exporter of beef in the world, and China is its largest customer. That leaves a vacuum in the marketplace for another country to fill until China decides to reopen its doors to Brazil. Australia would like very much to be the one that fills in that void according to reports from the country, however, tensions between Beijing and Canberra may prevent that from happening. Will this be a market advantage for the U.S.? that remains to be seen. The situation is still developing and no large changes in purchasing have been made by the Chinese yet. It will also depend on how frosty the relations are between the U.S. and China after their recent trade war.

BSE or Mad Cow Disease first was discovered in the United Kingdom in the 1980s and has since spread to different locations in the world, including the United States. The most common way for the disease to spread is to have animals fed by contaminated feed sources using byproducts from infected cattle.