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Chapter: Basic Concept of Biotechnology - Animal Biotechnology

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Economic impact in developing countries - Animal Biotechnology

The developing world is grossly unprepared for the new technological and economic opportunities, challenges and risks that lie on the horizon.

Economic impact in developing countries:

The developing world is grossly unprepared for the new technological and economic opportunities, challenges and risks that lie on the horizon. Although it is hoped that biotechnology will improve the life of every person in the world and allow more sustainable living, crucial decisions may be dictated by commercial considerations and the socioeconomic goals that society considers to be the most important.

The use of biotechnology will lead to a distinct shift in the economic returns from livestock. Though the role of livestock in ensuring nutritional security is recognized in mixed crop-livestock systems, the importance of livestock goes beyond direct food production. Livestock supply draught power and organic manure to the crop sector, and hides, skins, bones, blood and fiber are used in many industries. Thus, livestock are an important source of income and employment, helping to alleviate poverty and smooth the income distribution among small landholders and the landless, who constitute the bulk of the rural population and the majority of livestock owners. In addition, livestock can easily be converted into cash and thus act as a cushion against crop failure, particularly in less favored environments. By enabling crop residues and by-products to be used as fodder, livestock production contributes positively to the environment.In developed countries livestock accounts for more than half of agricultural production, while in developing countries the share is about one-third. This latter share, however, is rising quickly because of rapid increases in livestock production resulting from population growth, urbanization, changes in lifestyles and dietary habits and increasing disposable incomes.

In most developing countries, biotechnological applications relating to livestock need to be suitable for animal owners who are resource-poor small-scale operators who own little or no land and few animals. Using technology to support livestock production is an integral part of viable agriculture in multi-enterprise systems. Livestock are part of a fragile ecosystem and a rich source of animal biodiversity, as local species and breeds possess genes and traits of excellence. Molecular markers are increasingly being used to identify and select the particulargenes that lead to these desirable traits and it is now possible to select superior germ plasm and disseminate it using artificial insemination, embryo transfer and other assisted reproductive technologies. These technologies have been used in the genetic improvement of livestock, particularly in cattle and buffaloes, and the economic returns are significant. However, morbidity and mortality among animals produced using assisted reproductive technologies lead to high economic losses, so the principal application of animal biotechnology at present is in the production of cheap and dependable diagnostic kits and vaccines. Several obstacles limit the application of biotechnology at present: there is a lack of infrastructure and insufficient manpower, so funding is needed if resource-poor farmers are to benefit from biotechnology.


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