Over one hundred countries are taking action to save endangered livestock breeds using genetic stockpiling to preserve a wide variety of species, according to a new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

At least one livestock breed a month has become extinct over the past seven years, and around 20 percent of the world’s livestock breeds are at risk of extinction, according to the report, The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Some breeds at risk of extinction have unique characteristics such as resistance to disease or adaptation to extreme climates that could prove fundamental for the food security of future generations.

Delegates from 109 countries at the UN-backed conference in Interlaken, Switzerland adopted The Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, which includes financing for developing states. Priorities include inventory and monitoring of trends and risks; sustainable use and development; conservation; and institution building.

“This is a milestone in international efforts, a visible sign of the urgency that all countries and regions give to ensuring the survival of these crucial resources, and to improving their use to achieve global food security and sustainable development,” said FAO Assistant Director-General José María Sumpsi.

It calls for the provision of technical assistance, especially to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to help them implement the plan’s provisions.

A major breakthrough during the three-day negotiations was agreement on implementation and financing of the plan, which requires substantial financial resources and long-term support for national, regional and international animal genetic resources programmes.

“Governments are now strongly committed to implementing the global plan and are prepared to mobilize adequate funding,” Mr. Sumpsi said. “The ability of developing countries to effectively implement their commitments under this plan will depend on the effective provision of funding.”

But he warned that mere adoption of the plan was not an end in itself. “Success will depend on farsighted cooperation among many stakeholders. Governments, international organizations, the scientific community, donors, civil society organizations and the private sector all have important roles to play.” (FAO News)

See also: AP

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