WHERE ANIMAL GENOMICS AND BREEDING MEET SOCIETY,
NATURE FOR HUMANITARIAN AGRICULTURE
Emerging technologies in Animal Breeding and Genomics are recently transforming the way, Animal Breeder used to think, plan and work. Whole emphasis of Animal Breeder was to maximize production per animal in most efficient way possible. But in doing so, the scientists have been completely disconnected with their end clients i.e. consumers of their products. Another aspect of this productivity enhancement through genetic improvement has been to completely ignoring the welfare aspects of their target species. Although this has enabled us to produce substantially greater amounts of milk, meat, eggs and other animals food products to not only address the global food security issues but also notable business returns and cost effective prices to the consumers. However, in doing so the issues regarding long term Animal welfare are now being arising as a serious concern for animals breeders. So the concept of “HUMANITARIAN AGRICULTURE” is emerging fast and interventions of welfare nature in Animal Breeding and Genomics are now increasingly being considered, such as adaptability traits and fitness to local environments, than ever before.
Similarly in the absence of direct linkages between the two disciplines, issues of FOOD SAFETY and effects of GMO foods are posing a big social challenge to mankind. In line with this debate the indiscriminate exports of improved genetics to developing countries and resulting crossbreeding with local breeds is not only posing threat to the very existence of these indigenous livestock breeds but its long term ecological and environmental/climatic consequences are also being felt at the global level. As a result of crossbreeding practices all over the world, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture (FAO) wing is now also concerned and their efforts to frame and implement Global Plan of Action (GPA) for Animal Genetic Resource Conservation (ANGR) can be clearly seen as its top agenda item as a discipline of Animal Genetic Resource Conservation has emerged in the recent years
Attached to this, are the changes in our societies happening rapidly, especially to living and eating behaviours that are raising serious public health concerns. People are now living less active lives with more animal protein intakes causing large scale health hazards such as high cholesterol levels, more diabetic patients and morbidity in our societies.
Another worth discussing point in this regard is that RUMINANTS are not naturally created to consume grains, rather their farming needs to be based upon the utilization of low quality roughages so that farm animals do not compete with humans in grain consumption. These issues have gone neglected for long, by the Animal Scientists and needs to be addressed by undertaking research to produce efficient animals to produce better in grazing conditions. Further, intensive farming for more milk, meat and egg production is also becoming bigger source of environmental pollution and can only be addressed through producing “RIGHT ANIMALS”.
About complex human – animal interactions touching cultural and financial frontiers, the only way forward seems to be that both communities (SOCIAL AND ANIMAL SCIENTISTS) come on board jointly to complement rather than being at critical end to each other. This way enormous opportunities cab created to interact in a complementary way to plan and work for a PROSPROUS, HEALTHY, FOOD SECURED, SAFE ENVIROMENT WITH NO CLIMATIC THREATS AND IN THE SAME MANNER PRODUCING ANIMALS THAT ARE WELFARE ASSURED.
Dr. Ahmad Ali
Associate Professor, Department of Biosciences,
COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Sahiwal
Implementing the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources - http://www.fao.org/Ag/AGAInfo/programmes/en/programmes.htm
Domestic Animal Diversity Information System - DAD-IS - http://www.fao.org/dad-is/Animal Genetic Resources - an international journal - http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=AGR
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