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Vision of breeding for organic agriculture

Wytze, Nauta; Groen, Ab; Roep, Dirk; Veerkamp, Roel and Baars, Ton (2003) Vision of breeding for organic agriculture. Louis Bolk Instituut, Livestock production.

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Summary

This report describes the results of research into the vision of breeding systems within organic agriculture in the Netherlands. The purpose of the research was to arrive at a vision for breeding in organic agriculture by means of interviews and discussions with organic livestock farmers and social organisations.
The research was prompted by the fact that, as things stand, organic livestock farmers generally have to rely on the conventional breeding supply. Neither the breeding method not the animal type produced meet the requirements of organic agriculture. Interest in breeding has increased because organic agriculture is expanding, and as yet too little attention has been paid to the development of specific organic breeding programmes and associated legislation.
In recent decades conventional agriculture and breeding have tended more and more towards
industrialisation and uniformity with breeding becoming a multinational concern. The breeding organisations have no incentive at present to provide special services for organic agriculture as the market is too small and the costs are too high.
Taking the current breeding situation as the starting point, a number of scenarios are described for each animal sector which could gradually lead to a system of breeding which is more organic both in its aims and in the chain-based approach. The naturalness of the breeding techniques is an important factor in considering the available options. The different scenarios served as a basis for the interviews and discussions with livestock farmers and social organisations.
We have established that the farmers and organisations consider it important for organic agriculture to work on developing a breeding system which follows the principles of organic agriculture. The most important reasons for this are that:
(1) consumers expect all production factors in the chain to be of organic
origin,
(2) most livestock farmers currently use conventional breeding techniques which fall short of the organic requirements on a number of points, such as the use of artificial reproduction techniques and mono-functional breeding for production.
For the development of organic breeding, livestock farmers feel that in the first instance the use of artificial reproduction techniques, including cloning and transgenic techniques, should be restricted. Next the livestock farmers and social organisations want breeding to be adapted to or based on the organic environment. There is a suspicion that owing to genotype-environment interaction (G x E) conventionally-bred animals cannot adapt well to the organic environment, and this leads to health and welfare problems.
The farmers would like to see this development taking place within 5 to 10 years. It must however proceed one step at a time since the farmers cannot yet form a complete picture of the impact of all the different factors.
Most of the people involved see the ideal form of breeding, with natural reproduction and regional or farm-specific selection, as a standard to be achieved in the distant future. At the moment most livestock farmers have neither the knowledge nor the socio-economic means to set up such breeding programmes.
The development of breeding and the associated legislation require an international approach, for which suitable contacts must be sought in other countries.
The final chapter of this report looks in more detail at the steps to be taken in each sector. Ideally developments should probably be initiated and supervised by a central body, such as an organic breeding foundation, which could be set up to govern the breeding of all farm animals.


EPrint Type:Report
Subjects: Values, standards and certification > Technology assessment
Animal husbandry > Breeding and genetics
Research affiliation: Netherlands > Louis Bolk Institute
Netherlands > Wageningen University and Research Centre WUR
Related Links:http://www.louisbolk.nl/e/projects/livestock/fokkerij/index.htm
Deposited By: Steinbuch, Luc
ID Code:1334
Deposited On:24 Sep 2003
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:28
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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