Livestock and aquaculture are the two most widely used and important agricultural technologies today. They are also the fastest-growing industries. However, there are still several challenges associated with livestock and aquaculture.
These issues range from Environmental impacts of livestock and aquaculture to adjusting to changing climatic conditions. This article will discuss some of these issues.
Biotechnology in livestock and aquaculture
The use of biotechnology in livestock and aquaculture has a wide range of applications. Some of the methods are genetic modification and gene transfer. These methods can increase the quality of livestock breeding stock.
However, it is important to note that some methods are not yet widely used in commercial livestock breeding. For example, the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is not yet widely adopted.
Moreover, it is difficult to use genomic information from thousands of animals to effectively apply it in breeding programs. This is prohibitively expensive for small-scale producers.
The cost of genomic selection is widely considered to be a serious barrier to its application in low-input livestock and aquaculture systems. However, cheaper low-density SNP panels are available for small-scale producers.
Moreover, biotechnology in livestock and aquaculture can be applied for improving fish production and enhancing the environment. Global demand for seafood is growing and biotechnology can help meet the needs of this growing market.
Although the application of biotechnology in livestock and aquaculture is still limited, it has numerous benefits. It will be required to undergo stringent regulatory processes before it can be approved for commercial use.
Besides, SNP profiling can identify specific genes responsible for the high performance of fish. It can also help fish farmers to compare gene expression across multiple environmental conditions. Such information will help them to develop improved strains and commercialise them.
Environmental impacts of livestock and aquaculture
Livestock and aquaculture have significant environmental impacts. The livestock industry uses a wide range of land, water, and other resources to produce meat, eggs, and other products. The production of these products results in greenhouse gas emissions that are proportional to their weight.
The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Aquaculture has conducted synthesis products to illustrate the environmental impacts of livestock and aquaculture.
These synthesis products summarize the findings of a number of recent studies that evaluated the environmental impacts of livestock and aquaculture in developing countries.
Livestock and aquaculture generate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Biological efficiency in aquaculture means that they produce less CO2 than land-based livestock.
The low feed conversion ratio and high fertility of fish contribute to their high biological efficiency. The low prices and low emissions intensity of aquaculture commodities reflect this efficiency. However, this low GHG intensity of aquaculture is not cause for complacency. There are other important non-GHG impacts of aquaculture.
Livestock and aquaculture are both important sources of protein and nutrition in the world. While both are expected to increase over the coming years, animal advocates share a concern for the environment and support efforts to expand the industry in sustainable ways. Moreover, an improved planet is in the interests of both livestock and aquaculture.
However, the controversy over aquaculture expansion does not seem to be a welcome development. A clear understanding of the industry’s environmental impacts can help animal advocates choose their advocacy priorities.
Adaptation to changing climatic conditions in livestock and aquaculture
Despite advances in aquaculture production, the impacts of climate change on livestock and aquaculture are still not fully understood. The results of these studies provide an overview of aquaculture climate change concerns and uncertainties. The findings also identify policy and research needs.
There is a strong need to develop adaptive management strategies that will help producers to cope with changing climatic conditions.
A combination of mitigation and adaptation strategies is needed to combat the effects of climate change on livestock and aquaculture. Mitigation measures involve reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while adaptation strategies aim to improve animal health and production.
For example, the adoption of less-sensitive breeds of animals and improving access to water are all part of an adaptation strategy. Moreover, measures promoting gender equality and early warning systems are necessary to address livestock climate change and minimize its adverse impact.
A lack of adaptation measures will cause significant losses in livestock feed crops. Without action, soy and corn yields could lose up to 3 percent per decade. This decline would be even higher in tropical and subtropical regions.
Similarly, losses in beef and dairy production could reach between USD 9 billion and USD 31 billion, which would represent about 7% and 20% of global production in constant 2005 dollars.
Adaptation to changing climatic conditions can lead to better productivity, lower costs and higher profits. Aquaculture is increasingly important and can play an important role in ensuring food security. In addition to livestock, climate change will also affect pasture productivity.