Plan to protect livestock genetics

Advice is being made available to the farming industry and to government on how best to conserve the genetic material of farmed animals in the UK.

The plan, launched by Defra, makes recommendations on how to improve and maintain the diversity of livestock genetic material in the future.

The recommendations fall under various categories covering: maintaining an advisory body to better inform the public, industry and policy makers on the country's farm animal breeds; improving the collection, quality and availability of information and data on genetic resources to provide effective ways for their future use; supporting the prioritisation, development and implementation of projects to conserve genetic diversity and maintaining a co-ordinating function and enhancing issues surrounding genetic resources in other areas of government and industry.

Jeff Rooker, food and farming minister said: "This plan is important economically, socially and culturally.

"We have a fine tradition in this country of breeding a diverse range of farm animals which in many cases can be found across the world.

"However, there are growing concerns over genetic diversity as growing economic pressures have lead to a few specialised breeds spreading across the globe.

"The threat of exotic diseases is also a threat to diversity in some breeds."

He added that this strategic approach to managing the UK's world renowned genetic resources would help form policy in the years to come whilst at the same time ensuring the survival of many of the country's loved and cherished breeds.