Brave new world is opening to farmers

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DEEPER understanding of genetics and the new tools available to help the agricultural industry use that knowledge offer an exciting future for breeders of livestock and crops.

Andy Thompson, regional director of Genus, addresses the International Farm Management Conference
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Andy Thompson, regional director of Genus, addresses the International Farm Management Conference

But it always be done responsibly and with the consumers' acceptance, says Andy Thompson, regional director of Genus, a breeding company.

He was addressing the 21s International Farm Management Conference in Edinburgh and outlined various ways in which the science of genomics was revolutionising livestock production.

“From what has been done in the pig, poultry and dairy sectors and what we are beginning to achieve with beef and sheep, through collaboration with experts like the team at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), we know we can address challenges like antibiotic resistance, improved animal welfare and the ability to cope with drought or heat in various parts of the world,.

“But we must carry consumers with us; there must be benefits they understand.”

He said the growing science of genomics was developing understanding of how scientists could select for particular traits in the livestock such as milk yield, disease resistance or temperament. Techniques like gene editing offer even further options

“Gene editing is not genetic modification. We don’t add DNA from any other source. Editing means a virus has no way in, while leaving everything else working normally. The technology works; our next step is to gather the evidence to convince the public it is safe in terms of animal health and welfare and eating the offspring. That will take some years.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at 4:11PM
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