The second report on the State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

  • 27/01/2016
  • FAO

Livestock keepers and policy makers worldwide are increasingly interested in harnessing animal biodiversity to improve production and food security on a warmer, more crowded planet, according to a new FAO report. The agency nonetheless warns that many valuable animal breeds continue to be at risk and calls for stronger efforts to use the pool of genetic resources sustainably. According to The Second Report on the State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, some 17 percent (1,458) of the world's farm animal breeds are currently at risk of extinction, while the risk status of many others (58 percent) is simply unknown due to a lack of data on the size and structure of their populations. Nearly 100 livestock breeds have gone extinct between 2000 and 2014. Country data shows that indiscriminate cross-breeding is considered as the main cause of genetic erosion. Other common threats to animal genetic diversity are the increasing use of non-native breeds, weak policies and institutions regulating the livestock sector, the decline of traditional livestock production systems, and the neglect of breeds considered not competitive enough. Europe and the Caucasus, and North America are the two areas in the world with the highest proportion of at-risk breeds. In absolute terms, the highest number of at-risk breeds can be found in Europe and the Caucasus. Both areas are characterized by highly specialized livestock industries that tend to use only a small number of breeds for production.