[For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 16 June 2005 11:38
Subject: 54: Molecular tools and aquatic biodiversity // Appropriate applications in developing countries
This is Ron Jones, from Canada, again.
Vijay D (message 49, June 13) reiterates some key considerations about the appropriate application of sophisticated technologies in developing countries. Who benefits along the chain of R&D (research and development) and how is the adoption of outcomes monitored? Are incentives to innovate tied to farmer adoption? Are end users (the poor, the marginalized, the women) consulted beforehand in developing research trajectories (planning) to find solutions to their problems? Have these methods, and any alternatives to expensive, capacity demanding biotech approaches, been fully risk-assessed and evaluated?
The application of molecular tools in the relatively unknown world of fisheries and aquatic biodiversity will continue to play roles in determining stock structures of multi-species fisheries (meta-population dynamics) and important taxonomic classification work. Apart from this very basic work, reminding us that the great majority of genetic diversity needed for any future breeding plans for fish hopefully lies in dynamic and evolving wild gene pools, work on microsatellite markers and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for marker-assisted breeding and QTL identification and genomics will be important in those species with high commercial importance, such as salmon, carp, tilapia and oysters. I find it very interesting to include aquaculture/ranching and other culture-based capture fisheries along with wild habitats all part of in situ conservation work. Molecular tools to describe important intraspecific diversity for these differing environments will be important. There will a trend towards the integration of genomics; physiology/biology and quantitative genetics, in what H.M. Gjoen terms "Integrative Genetics" (Bulletin of the Aquaculture Association of Canada 104-2: 7-11. Aquaculture Biotechnology Workshop, 11-12 May 2004, St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada). This will also include diagnostics for fish health issues. Hopefully, a global database for markers can include key fish and crustaceans as well.
International Development Research Centre (IDRC)
channastri (at) netscape.net
Sent: 16 June 2005 11:40
Subject: 55: Re: Molecular characterisation of animal genetic resources
This is from David Steane, retired leader of the FAO regional project for animal genetic resources in Asia, and now living in Thailand.
There have been several messages (e.g. 31 (June 9, by Ilse Kohler-Rollefson), 35 (June 10, by Hans Lenstra), 36 (June 10, by Olivier Hanotte) and 45 (June 13, by Chanda Nimbkar) referring to the use of biotech techniques and the apparent lack of effort put into the more traditional methods of achieving genetic change for the benefit of local farmers. I agree with the sentiments expressed - particularly those of Olivier Hanotte and Chanda Nimbkar. The latter points out the discrepancy in terms of money and effort between biotechnology and traditional methodology and refers to glamour and whether researchers keep application in mind. One of the problems is the manner in which research and development is funded - in most countries the emphasis is on research - where this aspect is paramount for the scientists' personal future prospects it is clear that application is not paramount in their thinking. Most developing country policy makers seem to think that research in modern biotechnology will provide for their future - and it may be so - but certainly not by ignoring the well proven and cost effective traditional improvement methods.
Regarding the incompatibility of molecular analysis results from different centres - the European Union pig project, from early experiences I believe, developed a system whereby different labs studied only a restricted set of markers but for all samples (also suggested in this conference). Adding this approach to the use of the International Society for Animal Genetics (ISAG) recommended list of markers (suggested originally by an FAO working group and published by FAO) for the major farmed animal species, will go a long way to maximise the usefulness of the data. The record to date is of considerable waste of resources due to the lack of co-ordination between scientists involved.
Hopefully, the comments in this conference will be brought to the attention of decision makers - this is perhaps the area in which all participants can act to achieve better understanding and use of the technology. In Thailand, the Dept. of Livestock Development now has a nucleus unit of Kao Lamphun cattle (in co-operation with Chiang Mai university) to provide breeding stock to the region as the dam of crossbred beef production. There are also herds of two Thai Native cattle in other regions. It is intended to both characterise and store samples from some of the original animals as well as to attempt to make genetic change in the future. There is also an application for funding for some research looking for quantitative trait loci (QTLs) of traits of interest in this population although population size is not large. Hopefully, the project can use all the techniques to assist improvement of efficiency of beef production in Thailand.
Certainly biotech has an important role but it will never be the sole criterion for decisions about conservation and characterisation of breeds - but then I don't know anyone closely involved who has realistically suggested that to be the case!
Chiang Mai 50140,
Tel/fax (66) 53 42 99 18
desteane (at) loxinfo.co.th
[With respect to paragraph 2: Regarding across-lab collaboration, Marilyn Warburton (Message 42, June 10) wrote "We have concluded, both in AMBIONET and the Generation Challenge Program, where large scale genotyping projects are coordinated between several labs, that each lab should run a subset of the markers on all genotypes for the project, rather than each lab running a subset of the genotypes with all the markers. Any other way cannot guarantee no introduction of bias into the study". Regarding the FAO/ISAG lists of recommended microsatellite loci for genetic distancing studies, more information about them as well as an overview of their use in genetic diversity studies of domestic animals can be found in an information document prepared for the meeting of the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, 31 March to 2 April 2004, Rome, Italy, entitled "Measurement of domestic animal diversity - a review of recent diversity studies" - available at http://dad.fao.org/en/refer/library/reports2/itwg/CGRFA_WG_AnGR_3_04_Inf3.pdf ...Moderator].
Sent: 16 June 2005 11:41
Subject: 56: Biotechnology in developing countries // Human resource development
This is from Made S. Prana, Indonesia. The discussions on biotechnology in the developing countries (Bangladesh, Pakistan etc. - messages 3 (June 6) and 52 (June 14)) caught my attention. I was once in charge of a biotechnology research center in a developing country, Indonesia. I am not a biotechnologist, though.
In my opinion at least there are two reasons why biotechnology is important for us, even for people in the developing countries. Firstly, to keep ourselves aware of and update our knowledge on any recent development/progress of Science and Technology (S & T). Secondly, to apply it optimally (based on the local conditions) for the benefit of our people i.e. for poverty alleviation, or at least to prevent our country from being used for hazardous experimental field trials, including of biotechnology products.
Biotechnology is just a tool, an alternative tool as many people would say. Not all problems have to be solved using biotechnology or molecular methodology. Besides, biotechnology has a lot of options to offer - from the simple and inexpensive to the highly sophisticated and costly techniques. Through creativity, the equipment, the chemicals etc. could also be simplified and made less costly. There is almost nothing impossible in this world. So let's think positively.
Another way to cope with financial problems is to establish collaboration with scientists in the developed or more developed countries on mutual benefit applying the win-win principle. But, please, put human resource development highest in the priority list. I do realize that this sounds much easier said than done, but believe me I have gone through it and I felt that I have achieved something.
Made S. Prana
PROSEA Network Office,
Research Centre for Biotechnology,
Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI),
pran (at) proseanet.org
Sent: 16 June 2005 13:04
Subject: 57: Re: Molecular characterisation of animal genetic resources
This is Daniel Komwihangilo from Livestock Research Centre Mpwapwa (LPRI), Tanzania. My reseach areas are in ruminant nutrition. Particular interests are in the evaluation of indigenous feed resources and indigenous/local knowledge of feed evaluation and utilization.
I am quite interested with the proceedings of the conference. Of particular, comments today are on Ilse Kohler-Rollefson's comments (Message 31, June 9) and follow up comments such as those of Oliver Hannote (Message 36, June 10) and others.
Although I am not a geneticist, I agree that molecular characterisation of animal and plant genetic resources are one area through which understanding of diversity could be better understood for better utilization of plants and animals. However, farmers of all levels (small scale or large scale) are (among others) interested in quantity and quality of products delivered through diverse processes and technologies. For smallholder farmers in Subsaharan Africa, for example, their concern is not on 'characterisation'. Their concern is on how these farmers will continue to live and produce through the diverse populations of cattle and chicken etc. they currently own. These farmers are pressed upon by 'new' human and animal diseases, 'new' breeds and varieties, 'new' languages of globalization etc.
Therefore, molecular characterisation and all novel techniques will be of value to all farmers and their offspring if they deliver them from the present trials of life and assure them sustainable futures. Thus, whatever efforts are made by natural, social and other scientists will be welcome by farmers if they are not only affordable but also if they embrace sustainable development of their natural environments.
On the other hand, the low level of funding of agricultural research, especially for countries in the South, has also been raised by many contributors so far. I agree that this scenario is not only in biotechnology. However, I am convinced that global (concerted) efforts into technological development are necessary. This will be a way through which the benefits of "constructive biotechnologies" will be felt, especially for countries of the South.
Daniel M Komwihangilo, PhD candidate
Senior Livestock Scientist
P.O. Box 202
Tel/Fax 255 026 2320853
E-mail: dkomwihangilo (at) yahoo.com