May 2021

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Gene editing: what should the public know

Gentec-associated researcher, Ellen Goddard, explains some of the unpublished results she has obtained about how Canadian consumers respond to different technologies when it comes to breeding disease-resistant pigs. Read more here.

CAPI Big Solutions Forum: Creating prosperity from chaos

At the Big Solutions Forum on May 20, 2021, the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute brought together government and industry experts to discuss “how to build a resilient, sustainable and prosperous argi-food system for Canada”. Read our summary of the event here.

Says Gentec CEO Graham Plastow, "The Forum aligns with what Gentec and partners have been saying over the years about the opportunity for livestock agriculture. It's nice to see those ideas being reinforced here."

Alberta Innovates "Joins the Herd" and "Sticks It to COVID-19"

Alberta Innovates has developed a campaign encouraging  employees to get vaccinated. The campaign features colourful cows with the tag line “join the herd: get vaccinated” and band-aids with the tag line “stick it to COVID-19.” The response has been so good, that AI is inviting the community to join in.  You can download the campaign artwork here, and add the digital stickers to your emails, PowerPoints or other digital tools.

FILM: Guardians of the Grasslands

Guardians of the Grasslands is a short documentary produced by Story Brokers Media House with Canadian Beef, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The film explores the vital role cattle play in preserving our endangered native temperate grasslands, and was shot at the Waldron Ranch Grazing Co-op in southern Alberta.

The film has been selected for over 17 events in almost every province and even internationally, such as at the Nature Without Borders and Wildlife Conservation film festivals. It has won accolades, including for Research at the Yorkton Film Festival and Best Documentary at the Montreal Independent and Central Alberta Film festivals. View the film here.

Cattle are part of the sustainability solution

Food waste is a growing problem that we have reported on before. In this article, former Gentec Management Advisory Board member Reynold Bergen makes a convincing case that beef cattle are part of the food waste solution since they can be fed "seconds" that wouldn't make it to human plates.

Beef cattle are also part of the environmental sustainability solution. They play an important role in maintaining Canada's endangered Prairie grasslands; they help improve degraded soils; and, in Canada, most are pastured on land that can't be used for other forms of agriculture.

Nothing tastes like real meat

It's not enough that meat alternatives look like meat in order to appeal to consumers. That challenge is pretty-much over. Much harder to achieve are the other "experience" challenges associated with the joys of eating, such as flavour, texture and taste. Read more here.

Lab-grown chicken nuggets get world's first commercial approval

While other countries have created burgeoning cell-based meat industries "off the side of their desks," Singapore is the first country to sanction the product officially. (Remains to be seen if people like it, however. See above.) Read more here.

Walmart is the first grocery retailer in Canada to place on-pack "certified sustainable" claim on a line of beef products

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) Certified Sustainable Beef Framework, known as CRSB Certified, was developed to recognize sustainable practices through 3rd party certification. Walmart Canada sources 100% of its beef in Canada, now from certified sustainable farms and ranches according to CRSB standards. The Your Fresh Market brand beef patties will carry a CRSB sustainability certification label on each package. Read more here.

Canadian ag less impacted by climate change

Climate change has brought shorter, less vicious winters to Canada, which has benefited agriculture in terms of the longer growing season. In comparison, warmer countries such as Africa, Central America and Asia, are seeing reductions in agricultural productivity, see graphic. This demonstrates the importance of continuing to invest in innovation that can improve productivity for different climates.
Source: Ariel Ortiz-Bobea, T.R Ault, C.M. Carillo, R.G. Chambers and D.B. Lobell. “Anthropogenic climate changehas slowed global agricultural productivity growth”. Nature Climate Change. Vol 11. April 2021. pp 306-312.

Apparently, more of us will want to eat bugs

As well as being a high-protein alternative to meat, bugs could become an important feed in aquaculture. Either way, insects are slated to become a growth product (pardon the pun). Read more here.

Regenerative agriculture: an approach to sustainability that's making waves

While organic agriculture has come to focus on anti-GMO and pesticide-free, regenerative agriculture (which came from similar principles of human-scale food production) focuses on soil and soil health as the product, and food as the by-product. The process of agriculture therefore becomes less "extractive" and more integrated, using animals--including cows--to drive sustainability.

This article covers most of the points we've been making here at Gentec over the past few years about the positive contributions of beef cattle on Canada's endangered prairies.

Evidence that early humans were super-carnivores

Two key findings tilt the balance towards the super-carnivore side:
  • humans can be compared to today's large social predators, all of which hunt large animals and obtain more than 70% of their energy from animal sources; and
  • humans have a high acidity in their stomachs compared to omnivores or even other predators, which is important for consuming animal products.
Veggies are a more recent introduction to our diets. Read more here.


June 2-3. 2021 AGRI Tech Venture Forum
June 7-8. 16th Annual Canadian Summit on Food Safety
June 7-9. 5th international conference on Responsible Use of Antibiotics in Animals
June 8. Native Prairie Speaker Series - Bats
June 8. Conditioning Cattle to Eat Weeds and Range Health & Managed Grazing
June 9-11. World Pork Expo 2021, Des Moines, Iowa
June 16-17. Canada’s Farm Show
June 22-25. Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium. Des Moines, Iowa
June 23-25. World Meat Congress, Cancún, Mexico
July 7-10. National Holstein Convention
July 9, 16, 23, 30. Annual Southern Alberta Grazing School for Women
July 11-14 . American Dairy Science Association annual meeting.
July 14-18. ASAS-CSAS Annual Meeting and Trade Show. Louisville, KT, USA
July 26-30. International Society for Animal Genetics Conference

The lighter side: Concert for the cows

A collaboration between a cattle farmer and a Danish music training program brings regular recitals to pampered livestock -- but does it make wagyu beef? Read more here.
Photo: Carsten Snejbjerg for The New York Times
© 2021, Livestock Gentec

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Livestock Gentec · 2-31 General Services Bldg · University of Alberta · Edmonton, AB T6G 2H1 · Canada

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