Reacting yesterday (27 November) to news that the Republic of Ireland government, under Bertie Ahern, plans to market its beef as “BSE-Free,” EU Commissioner David Byrne spoke out insisting that there is no longer any member state within the EU that could confidently claim to be free of the disease.

The marketing plans appear to be a protectionist measure for the country’s beef export sales, which gross around £1.1bn every year, but Byrne maintained: “There is no such thing as risk free.” Byrne, appointed to the EU post by the Dublin government after serving as Irish Attorney General, explained to a radio audience: “Ireland certainly has been cooperative with the Commission, and has quite stringent application of the laws that are in place. But I do not think that any member state can give a guarantee that their beef is BSE-free.”

Irish company Enfer Scientificis is remaining positive that the plans can go ahead, however. It claims to have developed a new test for conclusive identification of BSE, which can be used prior to the implementation of the official EU testing programme.