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The intersection between human and animal welfare

The latest research tells us that shared values far outweigh facts when it comes to building trust in today's world. Brenda Schoepp explains to Gentec how this might work in the context of human and animal welfare. Read the article here.

"It's also true when we think about new technologies," says Gentec CEO Graham Plastow. "We need to find common ground with consumers when it comes to gene editing and even genomics."

Genome Alberta blogs focus on Gentec research

Gentec associate Ellen Goddard suggests that Alberta's bioeconomy is a standout in Canada, ag biotech even more so. Check out the blog and podcast here.

Gentec associates Mary De Pauw, Paul Stothard and Flippo Miglior are also featured in a blog on a new Genome Alberta-funded project to improve feed efficiency and the environmental "hoofprint" of the dairy industry through genomics. Check it out here.

Conference Video: Cory Van Groningen

In this month’s featured video (short version here) Cory Van Groningen highlights the use of technology in his integrated, family-owned, branded-beef business, VG Meats.  In the video, Cory explains how his family organization integrates technologies as varied as bioTrack, bioLinks, smart phones, Google Maps, bar codes, QR codes and tenderness-testing to develop a fully traceable product for a niche market, delivering VG Tenderness Tested beef to consumers hungry to know more about their food and where it comes from.

Gentec rides the genomics wave with the Canadian Simmental Association (CSA)

Gentec associate Steve Miller was the scientific lead of a CSA project that identified traits that produce superior quality beef. The project was funded by the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (see the recent announcement) and Saskatchewan’s Ag Development Fund.

"Having industry leaders like CSA build the phenotype and genotype resource needed for genetic improvement programs is great," says Miller. "At Gentec, we help turn these data into tools for producers to select and manage more profitable cattle. Doing this requires very large datasets, which this project helped to build. Now, we need to do the same thing with all the breed associations. This is now coming together. We truly do live in exciting times!"

Miller credits the Canadian Simmental Association as rapidly becoming an international genomics powerhouse.

Feed-efficient cows good for the planet

We already know that "easy-keeping" cows belch less methane than other cows. What we don't know is exactly how much less methane and which tools measure it most accurately. Gentec-associated researcher, John Basarab, is answering both questions. Read more.

That said, there are other ways of reducing emissions from cows.... Modern Farmer lists six of them here (some may raise eyebrows), including a nod to former Gentec CEO Stephen Moore (see #3).
Gentec's Jackson Mah, Graham Plastow show off the facilities at ALES to Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Oneil Carlier, during his visit on February 4.

Tax sugar, tax meat

Mexico launched a sugar tax to curb obesity but the results weren't exactly as intended. In a similar vein, a meat tax is being proposed to mitigate the environmental impact of agriculture. In this video, Gentec associate Ellen Goddard explains why it wouldn't do a lot of good.

Gentec CEO finds common voice with the Food Climate Research Network

"I've been saying for ages that cattle eat what we don’t. So we have a vehicle for generating highly nutritious protein that runs on roads that we can't use for human food--and we can reduce the environmental impact as well. Win, win, win...!" says Graham Plastow.

Imagine his excitement when the Food Climate Research Network headlined a piece: “If farm animals only graze pasture and eat by-products – livestock problem solved?”

One coin, so many sides

While Oklahoma State University's Jayson Lusk isn't convinced of the impact of antimicrobial resistance, the size of the problem or even of the over-use of antibiotics in animals, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance criticizes antibiotic use in agriculture as a critical threat to public health and recommends tighter controls on the practice in farming. Others, however, state that bacteria are becoming more antibiotic-resistant. Food blogger Alice Choi suggests you make up your own mind with some pure facts.

At Gentec, we think it simply makes sense to breed for animals that are resilient to disease. Our efforts are focusing on bovine respiratory disease in cattle and general resilience in pigs.

New Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) program expands Canada’s on-farm food safety program

Producers participating in VBP+ will continue to enhance the Canadian Beef Advantage, demonstrating that Canadian beef products are high quality, safe, and produced in systems that prioritize animal welfare and the environment, attributes that consumers are increasingly demanding. Read more here.

Drones, robots, cloud computing: Farming goes high-tech

From robotic milking machines to drones that herd animals, in this article, industry watchers say technology is making agriculture more precise and efficient. Stan Blade, dean of UAlberta's faculty of ALES, says innovation is key for the future of farming.

Gentec is no different. Cattle at the Mattheis Ranch (read more here and here) wear pedometers and GPS collars to overlay what forage they are eating with how they gain/maintain weight to create the phenotypes.

Social media wars

In November 2015, we brought you a story about hijacking hashtags to subvert the content. On a similar theme, Ontario farmer Andrew Campbell writes about the spam from vegan activists that are overwhelming twitter users. And on a related theme, The Western Producer writes about the the credibility of celebrities on social media vs. the meat industry. To give you an idea, just check out the number of Twitter followers at the bottom of the article.

Our bad

We apologize to Gentec associate Michael Dyck whose name we mangled in last month's newsletter in association with the report on swine health at the Banff Pork Seminar.
Copyright © 2016 Livestock Gentec, All rights reserved.

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