Imperatives For Action

Based on this rationale for upgrading the management of farm animal genetic resources, FAO has identified the following imperatives for action:

1. Identify and understand the genetic resources of each domesticated animal species which collectively comprise the global gene pool for food and agriculture;

2. Develop and utilize correctly the associated diversity to increase production and productivity, to achieve sustainable agricultural systems, and, where required, to meet demands for specific product types;

3. Monitor, in particular, those resources which are currently represented by very few animals or which are being displaced by breed replacement strategies;

4. Preserve the unique resources which are not currently in demand by farmers;

5. Train and involve people in all essential facets of management of these resources; and

6. Communicate to the world at large the importance and value of the domestic animal genetic resources and of the associated diversity, its current high exposure

Table 3 Working Definitions Proposed for Conservation

Animal Genetic Resources (AnGR) At the breed level, the genetically unique breed populations formed throughout all domestication processes within each animal species used for the production of food and agriculture, together with their immediate wild relatives (here "breed" is accepted as a cultural rather than a technical term, i.e., to emphasize ownership, and also includes strains and research lines).

Domestic Animal Diversity (DAD) The genetic variation or genetic diversity existing among the species, breeds and individuals, for all animal species which have been domesticated and their immediate wild relatives.

Conservation (of DAD) The sum total of all operations involved in the management of animal genetic resources, such that these resources are best used and deve/opedto meet immediate and short-term requirements for food and agriculture, and to ensure the diversity they harbor remains available to meet possible longer-term needs.

Conservation (in general) The management of human use of the biosphere so that it may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to present generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations. Thus, conservation is positive, embracing preservation, maintenance, sustainable utilization, restoration, and enhancement of the natural environment (IUCN-UNEP-WWF and FAO-UNESCO, 1980).

In Situ Conservation Primarily the active breeding of animal populations for food production and agriculture, such that diversity is both best utilized in the short term and maintained for the longer term. Operations pertaining to in situ conservation include performance-recording schemes and development (breeding) programs. In situ conservation also includes ecosystem management and use for the sustainable production of food and agriculture. For wild relatives in situ conservation — generally called in situ preservation — is the maintenance of live populations of animals in their adaptive environment or as close to it as practically possible.

Ex Situ Conservation In the context of conservation of domestic animal diversity, ex situ conservation means storage. It involves the preservation as animals of a sample of a breed in a situation removed from its normal production environment or habitat, and/or the collection and cryopreservation of resources in the form of living semen, ova, embryos, or tissues, which can be used to regenerate animals. While other methods of genetic manipulation, such as the use of various recombinant DNA techniques, may represent useful means of studying or improving breeds, they do not constitute ex situ conservation and may not serve conservation objectives. At present, the technical capacity to regenerate whole organisms from isolated DNA does not exist.

Source:Adapted from FAO (1995).

to loss, and the impossibility of its replacement. To facilitate effective communication a clear set of terminology is necessary. A minimum set of terms is given in Table 3.

The Strategy must be country focused both to recognize properly the sovereignty that nations have over their AnGR and because resources are lost or saved at the country level. For success, and in understanding and developing genetic resources, the Strategy must also focus interventions on identifiable production environments.

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