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Fifth of Farm Animal Breeds May Face Extinction - FAO

Date: 18-Dec-06
Country: SPAIN

One breed is being lost each month, and the globalisation of livestock markets is the biggest single factor hitting farm animal diversity, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a statement on Friday.

Of more than 7,600 breeds in the FAO's global database of farm animal genetic resources, 190 have become extinct in the past 15 years and a further 1,500 are considered at risk of extinction, it said.
"This process leads to a narrowing genetic base ... within the commercially successful breeds ... as other breeds, and indeed species, are discarded in response to market forces," Irene Hoffmann, chief of the FAO's animal production service said in the statement.

"Maintaining animal genetic diversity will allow future generations to select stocks or develop new breeds to cope with emerging issues, such as climate change, diseases," said Jose Esquinas-Alcazar, secretary of the FAO's commission on genetic resources for food and agriculture.

One billion people worldwide are involved in animal farming, the FAO said.

Livestock currently account for about 30 percent of agricultural gross domestic product in developing countries, a figure expected to rise to nearly 40 percent by 2030.

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