State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources Report Urges Action to Conserve Livestock Diversity for Resilient Agriculture
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'The Second Report on the State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture' (SoW-AnGR), published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), underlines the key importance of livestock diversity for adapting production systems to the impacts of climate change and meeting global challenges such as increasing demand for animal protein.

The report finds that global livestock diversity remains at risk, and calls for stronger efforts to conserve the existing pool of animal genetic resources.

fao_headquarters27 January 2016: ‘The Second Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture’ (SoW-AnGR), published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), underlines the key importance of livestock diversity for adapting production systems to the impacts of climate change and meeting global challenges such as increasing demand for animal protein. The report finds that global livestock diversity remains at risk, and calls for stronger efforts to conserve the existing pool of animal genetic resources.

Released under the auspices of the FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), the report focuses on developments since the release of the first SoW-AnGR in 2007, and reviews the state of the implementation of the second Global Plan of Action (GPA) on AnGR. The CGRFA is the main international body coordinating action towards the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture. The GPA and SoW on AnGR are the key elements of the CGRFA Global System for the conservation of livestock biodiversity.

The report’s introduction outlines key developments in other international fora to which the report is relevant, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the CBD’s Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Use; and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture) and SDG 15 (Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss).

The report is divided into five parts addressing: the state of livestock diversity; livestock sector trends, including drivers of change and their impact on AnGR management; the state of capacities regarding institutions, characterization and monitoring, breeding, conservation, reproductive and molecular technologies, and legal and policy frameworks; the general state of the art in livestock breeding and conservation; and needs and challenges.

Key findings with regard to the state of AnGR include that 17% of farm animal breeds are at risk of extinction, while that data was insufficient to assess the status of 58% of livestock breeds. Furthermore, almost 100 breeds have gone extinct between 2000 and 2014.

Indiscriminate cross-breeding focusing on productivity increases while disregarding traits important to environmental adaptation is identified as the most important threat to livestock diversity. Other threats include the introduction of non-native breeds, weak policies and institutions, the lack of profitability and competitiveness of traditional breeds, production system intensification, and poor disease management.

Other key findings include the need to: better understand the adaptations of specific livestock breeds to environmental challenges; improve the assessment of threats; and assist developing countries in establishing effective breeding programmes and filling gaps in conservation efforts.

The report concludes that the strategic priorities for action outlined in the second GPA for AnGR remain relevant. It further calls for action to strengthen the main elements of sustainable AnGR management, such as: institutional frameworks; awareness, education, training and research; breeding and conservation strategies and programmes; and national strategies and action plans. [Publication: Second Report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture] [Infographic on Key Findings] [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release] [CGRFA Website]

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