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Establishing the scientific and mechanistic framework for a GIN - IF01104

Description
Ruminant genetic improvement can play an important role in developing livestock systems that will be sustainable in the future, and produce food in an environmentally friendly manner. Also, genetic improvement of livestock is a particularly cost-effective technology, producing permanent and cumulative changes in performance. Moran et al (2007) showed the very high value of animal and plant genetics research and development in helping to deliver on likely future policy priorities (public good rates of return ranging between 11-61%), including responding to global climate change and reducing the environmental impact of farming systems.

The current delivery route for genetic improvement in the UK is via the genetic evaluations of dairy cattle (funded by DairyCo), and of sheep and several selected beef cattle breeds (funded by Signet). These are currently undertaken by Edinburgh Genetic Evaluation Services (EGENES) based in SAC, Edinburgh. These evaluations include a range of production and fitness-related traits in each species. There many examples of how these services have been updated to include the output of research projects, many of which have been developed by SAC and partners, and therefore disseminate research directly to the industry. As a result, we have unrivalled experience in ruminant breeding goal construction and delivery and applying new research tools in practice. The genetic improvement in the UK has been shown to be worth many millions of pounds to the dairy, beef (23 million over 10 years) and sheep (29 million over 10 years) sectors (Amer et al., 2007).

A workshop to explore the potential for a Ruminant Genetic Improvement Network (GIN) with stakeholders was held on 4-5 June 2009. Outputs from this meeting established broad stakeholder support for a ruminant GIN and identified priority research themes. Defra are supporting the industry via funding a ruminant GIN with the objective of reducing the environmental footprint of ruminant production through improved methodologies for genetic selection. The aim of this proposal is to outline tasks that establish the technical and mechanistic framework for the ruminant GIN in the month’s preceding official start of the ruminant GIN project (1st of April 2010). This will reduce the need for lead-in activities being undertaken at the start of the ruminant GIN thus helping work on Tasks to commence earlier in the project. The project will develop:
1. A strategic paper to develop the technical framework for ruminant GIN activity: This objective will develop a strategic framework for the potential activity required to meet the wider objectives of the ruminant GIN, as shortlisted in the workshop on 4-5 June and to be identified. This strategic document will help map out how a ruminant GIN can deliver its objective. This will involve consultation period with stakeholders (industry and academic), followed by an expert review, horizon scan and options appraisal of the activities as part of ruminant GIN. Having a framework in place for ruminant GIN activity will also serve as a systematic, management tool and help provide a clear vision for the ruminant GIN.

2. A mechanistic framework for ruminant GIN activity. This objective will establish the overall web portal and IP arrangements for the ruminant GIN activity. Having a web and IP framework established before commencing the project will ensure that dissemination and interaction between partners and industry can commence in the very early days of the project rather than being delayed until the project is up and running. The tasks in this objective include developing a GIN website to support knowledge exchange (KE) in the GIN, a web-based management system to facilitate project management and partner collaboration, a scoping exercise to define the data resources required by a ruminant GIN and developing the IP framework for a ruminant GIN. This objective will underpin the activity and knowledge exchange of the GIN and support the management and interaction between project partners and GIN members.
Objective
7. (b) Objectives

General background

Livestock production accounts for 70% of the agricultural land on the planet. Given that demand for livestock products is expected to double by 2050 it is vital that we identify less polluting ways of production, spanning both intensive and extensive systems. Northern Europe is one of the few parts of the globe where climate change is expected to be neutral or even benefit agricultural productivity. Hence it is likely to make an even more important contribution to global food supply in the future. Much of the land area currently used for livestock production is unsuitable for cropping due to topography, soil type etc. Additionally conversion of such land to cropping may well have adverse effects on carbon balance.

Genetic improvement can play an important role in developing ruminant systems that will be sustainable in the future, and produce food in an environmentally friendly manner. Also, genetic improvement of livestock is a particularly cost-effective technology, producing permanent and cumulative changes in performance. A recent study has shown the very high value of animal and plant genetics research and development in helping to deliver on likely future policy priorities (public good rates of return ranging between 11-61%), including responding to global climate change and reducing the environmental impact of farming systems. Livestock breeding is seen as a tool in the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan to help UK farmers reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 6% by 2020. Ruminant genetic improvement has been shown to be a cost-effective mechanism of reducing GHG emission in both UK and EU in ruminant production systems. Improving adoption, and continued development, of ruminant genetic improvement tools will help farmers be proactive and reach, and potentially exceed emissions targets.

A workshop to explore the potential for a Ruminant Genetic Improvement Network (GIN) with stakeholders was held on 4-5 June 2009. Outputs from this meeting established broad stakeholder support for a ruminant GIN and identified priority research themes. In response to this Defra developed a project specification (IF0169) to commission work in line with these priority areas to support industry in reducing the environmental footprint of ruminant production through improved methodologies for genetic selection. A proposal to address the project specification is being developed, with a range of academic and industry input, with an aimed submission date of 31st January 2010 and, if successful, a start date of 1st April 2010.

The aim of this proposal is to outline tasks that establish the technical and mechanistic framework for the ruminant GIN in the month’s preceding the 1st of April 2010. Establishing these frameworks preceding the start date of the ruminant GIN project (IF0169), would reduce the need for lead-in activities being undertaken at the start of the ruminant GIN thus helping work on Tasks to commence earlier in the project. This framework will focus on 2 objectives:
1. Strategic paper to develop the technical framework for ruminant GIN activity
2. Development of the mechanistic framework for ruminant GIN activity.

Objective 1: Strategic paper to set the technical framework for ruminant GIN activity.


The Ruminant GIN workshop highlighted a total of 10 research areas that could be undertaken to support the aims of a ruminant GIN focused on reducing the environmental impact of ruminant systems (Table 1). A selection of activities related to or underpinning the top ranking research areas (3, 6 and 7) will be among the initial major tasks of the proposed ruminant GIN project.

As part of this project, this objective will develop a strategic framework for the potential activity required to meet the wider objectives of the ruminant GIN, considering all 10 themes. This strategic document will help map out how a ruminant GIN can deliver its objective. Having a framework in place for ruminant GIN activity will also serve as a systematic, management tool and help provide a clear vision for the ruminant GIN.

The specific tasks under this objective are:
• 1.1. Collate current knowledge related to the GIN, both national and international and identify knowledge gaps and propose tasks to fill them.
• 1.2. Horizon scan new areas of development that would meet the objective of a ruminant GIN.
• 1.3. Undertake qualitative options appraisal of suggested tasks/activities

Objective 2: Development of the mechanistic framework for ruminant GIN activity.

This task will establish the overall web portal and IP arrangements for the ruminant GIN activity. This will be on 4 levels which are presented separately. Each level of dissemination/interaction supports a different Task in the overall GIN project and establishing the overall web and intellectual property (IP) framework. The IP related to animals and genetic improvement is constantly evolving as new tools/techniques etc. are being developed (Rothschild and Newman, 2002 ). It is important to note that some (or all) of the data (e.g., phenotypic, genotypic, sequence etc.) that may be bought to the GIN (background information) and developed by, or associated to the GIN (foreground information) may have IP issues to be clarified and therefore need consideration in the IP agreement of the ruminant GIN. Having a web and IP framework established before commencing the project will ensure that dissemination and interaction between partners and industry can commence in the very early days of the project rather than being delayed until the project is up and running. This objective will underpin the activity and knowledge exchange of the GIN rather than be a component of work as part of the GIN.

The objectives are to create the mechanisms for disseminating information and data from the ruminant GIN through building:
• 2.1. An information website,
• 2.2. A web-based project management system,
• 2.3. Scoping and defining framework for data and data access methods for a ruminant GIN,
• 2.4. Developing the IP framework for the ruminant GIN

Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : IF01104 SID5   (327k)
• ROAME Document : IF01   (165k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2010

To: 2010

Cost: £107,398
Contractor / Funded Organisations
SAC Commercial Ltd
Keywords
Genetics              
Integrated Farming Systems              
Livestock              
Sustainable Farming and Food Science              
Sustainable Farming Systems