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    Genetic 'Noah's Ark' strategy launched for the country's farm animals
09/11/06

A plan to conserve the genetic material of the country's farmed animals was launched this week.

The plan makes recommendations to the industry and Government on how we can improve and maintain the diversity of our livestock's genetic material in the future.

The recommendations fall under the following broad categories:

  • To maintain an advisory body to better inform the public, industry and policymakers on the country's farm animal breeds;
  • To improve the collection, quality and availability of information and data on genetic resources to provide effective ways for their future use;
  • To support the prioritisation, development and implementation of projects to conserve our genetic diversity;
  • To maintain a co-ordinating function and enhance issues surrounding genetic resources in other areas of Government and Industry.

Whitebred Shorthorns are classified as "critical" by
the Rare Breeds Survival Trust
photo courtesy of www.whitebredshorthorn.com

farmland
Jeff Rooker, Food and Farming Minister, said:

‘This plan is important economically, socially and culturally. We have a fine tradition in this country of breeding a diverse range of farm animals which in many cases can be found across the world. However, there are growing concerns over genetic diversity as growing economic pressures have lead to a few specialised breeds spreading across the globe . The threat of exotic diseases is also a threat to diversity in some breeds.

'There are also new challenges and opportunities for livestock farmers today and our genetic resources and the expertise of breeders have the potential to meet our pressing environmental and market challenges.

This strategic approach to manage our world renowned genetic resources is to be complimented and I think all involved would agree that this will help us form policy in the years to come whilst at the same time ensuring the survival of many of our loved and cherished breeds.'

Notes:

1- The report uses the term Farm Animal Genetic Resources (FAnGR). This is a scientific term to describe the genetic diversity of our farmed livestock and the range of genetic 'resources' this diversity represents. FAnGR usefully replaces the term 'breed' in a scientific context.

2 -The National Steering Committee (NSC) for Farm Animal Genetic Resources is an ad-hoc advisory committee set up in 2003 and has now satisfied its Terms of Reference. The formation of the NSC was one of the key recommendations of the UK Country Report on Farm Animal Genetic Resources 2002 which the UK submitted to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation in 2002 as the our official contribution to the 'First Report on the State of the World's Farm Animal Genetic Resources'.

3- The NSC was set up as a UK body with participation from the devolved administrations and has representation from animal geneticists, experts in conservation, NGOs engaged in breed management and conservation, and mainstream species associations.

4 -The Plan makes a strong case to support the view that the range of livestock breeds in the UK is a valuable asset to our rural economy, animal health and welfare, environmental management and cultural heritage. It provides the foundational tools for sustainable development in the livestock sector in the post CAP reform era.

5- The Plan provides a strategy that can will support the management of FAnGR and help meet the changing demands on national livestock production whilst prioritising the conservation of our rich and diverse FAnGR. The NAP sets out 38 recommended actions to help in the protection and sustainable use of our FAnGR.

link New farmer-friendly measures to protect countryside
link Farm radio - keeping the farming community informed
link Countryside Live Food & Farming Fair 2006

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