67th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science – EAAP – in Belfast, UK
Sustainable Food Production: Livestock's Key Role
This year the annual EAAP meeting takes place in Belfast from Aug 29 to Sep 2. It is European's largest animal science conference and hosts more than 1,500 delegates and features 1,000 presentations.
During the conference’s opening ceremony on Tuesday (30 August), European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan said the agricultural sector needed to become smarter, leaner and cleaner. Science had a vital role in helping agriculture find ways to produce food more sustainably.
“That requires more and better knowledge that allows us to build a more competitive and sustainable food production system, and creates new value chains in rural areas,” he said.
Dr. Craig Lewis, PIC's Genetic Service Manager for Europe, presented this challenge from the pig breeding point of view:
Pig breeding into the 21st century a view towards 2030 and beyond
During the history of intensive animal breeding, there have been three major technological breakthroughs, selective breeding, BLUP evaluations, and use of genomic technologies. The pig sector, in general, has always been at the forefront of driving technological advances in the breeding sector due to the efficient biological process of pig production and industry structure.
As we move toward 2030 it will arguably be the most rapidly moving period of innovation in animal agriculture with new breeding technologies changing the way in which potentially the pig industry can provide animal protein to a growing population. We are already seeing the impact of genomics allowing us to create more kgs of meat produced per sow than ever before and new advances in the ways the industry can utilize directly the genome to increase welfare, food safety, reduce the environmental impact of production while also increasing efficiency for producers is of significant societal good.
What is clear is that the technology is being rapidly developed to deliver positive changes in the industry, this coupled with our increase understanding of the underlying biology of the pig and development of novel trait recording will enable the industry to utilize new technologies within the major production systems for rapid uptake in the industry.
What is less clear is the political and social acceptance of the new technologies, and key to implementation is clear, open, and honest dialogue with all global stakeholders during the coming years.