According to a new report released by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, genetic diversity in the livestock industry is decreasing, and an intensive program to maintain samples and evaluations of different gene pools needs to be developed to avoid species extinction.

"Up to 30% of global livestock breeds are currently at risk and, if lost, cannot be replaced," the report warns.

The report “Protecting Food and Animal Gene Pools for Future Generations” outlines four steps to maintain genetic diversity in the livestock industry: censusing phenotypes and genotypes; improving cryopreservation technologies for germplasm and cell types; maintaining living populations of breeds, lines, and strains; and developing partnerships among breed associations, agricultural universities, federal agencies, and nongovernmental organizations.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are seven domesticated species with 7,745 agriculture breeds left in the world. The CAST report highlights the importance of generating data on these breeds and storing genetic material in case scientists and the agriculture industry need their traits and characteristics in the future.

Julie Long, a USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist who chaired the task force that wrote the report, discussed the main purpose of this report is to “start a conversation” and “bring awareness” to the subject. She also stated for this project, “we are [not] talking about a lot of money, we are talking about a lot of work,” that needs to be completed to see the databases filled with complete and accurate information.

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