The Korean government has announced that it will suspend imports of Canadian beef after a, recent, confirmed case of mad cow disease (bovine spongiform) in Alberta. Alberta reported one cow has been found with the disease. The Canadian government discovered the cow prior to the cow entering the food supply.
Korea previously banned Canadian beef imports in 2011. This most recent ban comes at an interesting time, considering that the recently-signed Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement just entered into force last month.
Korea is a net importer of agriculture and agri-food products. Canada's beef exports to Korea account to, only, 1% of the total beef industry, however, the issue brings back memories of the 2008 protests over the resumption of U.S. beef imports after an extended ban in 2003.
To what extent the Canadian government hoped to avoid just such an issue by signing their recent FTA, we can only speculate. It will be interesting to see what will occur if a cow in the States comes down with the disease. If U.S. beef is not banned, based on this development, will we see more Korea-image damaging protests in the streets?
We will update the reader when more information comes available with regard to this issue.