Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
University of Saskatchewan

University of Saskatchewan

May 25, 2006 13:16 ET

AAFC and the University of Saskatchewan Forge New Partnership to Conserve Livestock Diversity

SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN--(CCNMatthews - May 25, 2006) - Scientists will help conserve Canada's valuable livestock breeds through the Canadian Animal and Poultry Genetic Resources initiative, a new program developed by the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) which is providing just over $1 million for equipment and other start-up costs.

"This is an excellent example of how government, industry and academia can work together to help sustain a competitive and profitable future for Canadian agriculture and agri-food sectors," said Chuck Strahl, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, "and another example of this government's commitment to farmers."

The program will be a combination of research and gene bank for cattle, pigs, poultry and other livestock. It will acquire, maintain and distribute genetic resources and information about breeds and genetic material for researchers across Canada. Scientists will characterize, evaluate and analyze existing genetic diversity and monitor it for change. They will also work to develop new techniques to collect and preserve genetic material.

"With the establishment of the hub and the concentration of University of Saskatchewan expertise and the strengths at the College of Agriculture and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, we will be jointly developing a new, unique to North America graduate program in conservation of animal genetic resources," said Associate Dean of Agriculture Graham Scoles.

The U of S's College of Agriculture and the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) will serve as the "hub" of this initiative. Participants include Bova-Can Laboratories (a joint venture between the Saskatchewan Research Council and Bova-Can Parentage Testing Inc.), AAFC's Plant Gene Resources Canada, and the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization.

"By conserving our animal genetic resources, we protect our capacity to respond to both animal health and market challenges," said Charles Rhodes, Dean of the WCVM at the U of S. "This new program will also provide a resource for Canadian breeders to develop animals tailored for niche opportunities both here and abroad."

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recognizes the loss of animal genetic diversity as a growing concern worldwide and has developed its Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources.

"There are growing international efforts in many countries around the world to conserve genetic diversity in traditional breeds," said Donald Shaver, former chair of the Canadian Farm Animal Genetic Resources Foundation. "It is our responsibility to see to it that our irreplaceable Canadian animal genetics are similarly conserved."

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