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ILRI Campus in Nairobi to Spearhead Establishment of Livestock Gene Bank
Monday, 2013/07/22 | 09:56:43

Dr. Jimmy Smith, director-general of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), based in Nairobi, has indicated that the institute is at the core of plans to establish the world's first livestock gene bank. "There are many gene banks for crops around the world and these gene banks have held (in trust) for use of the world some of the main and the important crop varieties and their wild relatives. We have no such facilities for livestock even though the germplasm for livestock are being eroded in the same way as crop varieties are being eroded," notes Smith.


Gene banks are not only useful for protecting endangered species, but are also a precious research tool -  by searching within samples, we could isolate species that are resistant to particular diseases or can easily adapt to climate change, says Smith. He also noted that there can be issues of ownership of genetic resources, but he is confident that this kind of problem can be overcome by setting up a database to connect different national gene banks into a global network without moving the materials.


Plans are still at a preliminary stage and the project needs more funding, but Smith maintains that Africa has the right technical resources and know-how to accomplish the task. "To realize such a complex structure we will need different expertise ranging from biology, ecology and economy, but ILRI is a global organization and we bring together the right technical skills from both developing and developed world," he says.


Read the original story at http://bit.ly/12GwsoZ. For more details contact s.macmillan@cgiar.org.

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