Livestock and Genetic Resources
Animal genetic resources are the primary biological capital for livestock development, and are vital to food security and sustainable rural development. Yet, the values of these resources are poorly understood and their management has been neglected. This has resulted in substantial erosion of genetic diversity – a trend that is likely to accelerate with the rapid changes affecting the livestock sector in response to massive increases in demand for livestock products.
Livestock development in the twentieth century concentrated on a very small number of breeds worldwide, frequently without due consideration to the way in which local production environments affect animals’ ability to survive, produce and reproduce.
The use and development of livestock breeds and the conservation of valuable breeds that are of little current interest to livestock producers need to be upgraded. A range of rapidly developing molecular and reproductive biotechnologies has important implications for AnGR management, as has a range of policy, legal and institutional issues.
The Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, adopted by the international community in 2007 under the aegis of FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, provides a framework for the management of the world’s livestock biodiversity.