Opportunities for animal breeding to meet the challenges of the future

J.A.M. van Arendonk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional


Presented on 13th September 2011 at the ceremony of awarding the Honorary Doctorate of the Poznan University of Life Sciences : The challenges for the next 50 years are to increase the productivity of major livestock species to address the food needs of the world, while at the same time minimizing the environmental impact and the loss in genetic diversity. This paper describes on a number of contributions of animal breeding to meet these challenges of the future. First it is discussed how to incorporate environmental impact in the breeding objective, i.e. the goal of an animal breeding program. Over the last two decades, breeding in poultry, pigs and dairy cattle has not only resulted in increased productivity but also in decreased emission of greenhouse gases per ton of animal product. Opportunities are discussed to further reduce the impact on the environment. Subsequent sections describe the impact of genomics, social interactions, and product quality on animal breeding programs. The final section deals with opportunities to use animal breeding in developing countries. The completion of genome sequences has generated the tools for whole-genome selection programs for a wide spectrum of traits which are now being applied in practise. Furthermore, research is increasing our understanding of the underlying biology of important traits such as animal welfare. Developments in the area of quantitative genetics and in recording of phenotypes are required to fully exploit the wealth of genomic information. For the developed world, new tools and techniques are now being implemented to increase the genetic gain from breeding programs. These techniques, however, also offer opportunities to better characterize and use indigenous breeds in developing countries. Through international collaboration in training, research and implementation, animal breeding can help in meeting the challenges for the next 50 years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30
JournalNauka Przyroda Technologie = Science Nature Technologies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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