Fast action needed on national livestock gene bank, with FMD on the horizon


Terry Sim, Beef Central (Australia)



THE faster Australia establishes a livestock genetics gene bank, the safer the future of the nation’s animal industries will be, according to University of Sydney Professor of Animal Production Simon De Graaf.


The Department of Agriculture Water and Environment has told Beef Central that a report into a livestock gene bank business case was nearing finalisation by CSIRO.


“The livestock gene bank was an initiative of the previous government and has not been prioritised for implementation by the new government.”


New minister for agriculture Murray Watt has told Beef Central his priorities for the agriculture sector will be heavily informed by industry, and he is seeking advice from the department about the gene bank.


“I’m already working closely with industry to ensure that I have a strong understanding of current challenges and I look forward to addressing those in the near future.”


Professor De Graaf said like all people working in agriculture, he is concerned about the serious biosecurity threats the industry regularly faces, including the mounting threat from Foot & Mouth Disease in nearby Indonesia.


“Frozen genetic resources (semen, embryos, eggs) offer something of an insurance policy should the unthinkable happen and Australia suffers a major disease outbreak.


“Significant private stocks of frozen semen (and to a lesser extent embryos) already exist for the sheep and cattle industries so there is a degree of insurance now,” he said...