Report of the Workshop on

 Conservation and Utilization of Farm Animal

 and Aquatic Genetic Resources




held in Tainan, Chinese Taipei

November 3-6, 1998





Workshop on Conservation and Utilization of

Farm Animal and Aquatic Genetic Resources


held in Tainan, Chinese Taipei

November 3-6, 1998




  1.   The APEC-ATC Workshop on Conservation and Utilization of Farm Animal and Aquatic Genetic Resources was convened at the Taiwan Livestock Research Institute, Hsin-Hua, Tainan on 3-6 November 1998. Delegations from Canada, Japan, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and USA attended the workshop. The list of delegates appears on Annex I.


 2.   The workshop was chaired by Dr. Bao Ji Chen, Director General, Animal Industry Department, COA, Chinese Taipei, and co-chaired by delegates from member economies in different sessions.


I.                Opening Session


  3.   Dr. Chen opened the session by way of welcoming all the participants in this year’s workshop. He then emphasized the significance of the workshop by stating that in Taiwan, alone, 50-55 percent of the Gross Domestic Products came from agriculture, contributing to roughly $NT 120 billion of the whole economic pie. He expressed hope that this workshop will build more networks and that the inputs in this workshop will contribute to the whole development process in farm animals and aquatic genetic resources.


  4.   As Director General of the Taiwan Livestock Research Institute, Dr. Cheng Tuang-Wang delivered the welcome remarks. His speech focused on the importance of agricultural genetic resources as crucial in food production and environmental and socio-economic stability. With the increasing human population, changes in systems of production and greater demand for food, he said that genetic resources underpin this production. Conservation and utilization of genetic resources can no longer be regarded as an important activity per se, and he sincerely hoped  that the research cooperation among APEC member economies will be expanded.


  5.   On behalf of Dr. Te-yeh Ku, Director General of the International Cooperation Department, COA, Chinese Taipei, Mr. Ming-Lai Wang, Deputy Director General  likewise provided the opening remarks as Lead Shephered. He congratulated Director General Wang and his staff for their great efforts in organizing this timely and relevant workshop. He also gave a brief background of the APEC (ATC) which started in November, 1994 in Bogor Indonesia, and how it evolved into what it is now.


        The Lead Shephered then started to explain the seven priority areas for cooperation, one of which is the “Conservation and Utilization of Plant and Animal Genetic Resources.” This, he said, is one of the key elements for enhancing the sustainable productivity of quality food. From there, he talked about the importance of genetic resources being able to provide pest resistance, stress tolerance, etc. Also, they ensure genetic diversity for ecological balance. APEC member economies, according to him, acknowledge the value of collaboration in conservation and utilization of genetic resources, but the disparity in information gathering and dissemination posed a gap between and among various countries. He said that this workshop hopes to bridge this gap. It is a follow-up of the collaborative efforts of last year’s workshop recommendations.


II. Report on the progress of the resolution reached at the last workshop and follow-up discussion (Dr. Ming-Jeng Fan, NPGRNC, TARI, Chinese Taipei)

  6.   Dr. Ming-Jeng Fan of the NPGRNC in TARI gave a brief introduction to the PC-NPGRIS data management system of Chinese Taipei. He said this was basically designed for breeders and their allied workers within the economy to input, verify and transfer various data to the main database server. Dr. Fan likewise reported on the three main activities of NPGRIS, the development of its homepage, hardware and database architectures, etc. He said the bottomline is to provide relevant genetic information which is friendly, easily accessible and retrievable. The second part of his report is an invitation to all APEC member economies to try and access this technology.  The system, he said, had been modified to include an English version so that members can establish a mini-database on germplasm by themselves.


  7.   Dr. Jaweed Siddiqui from Canada asked if this technology can be adaptable in the light of the fact that computer programs might be obsolete by the year 2000 and onwards. Dr. Fan answered that this is well taken care of.


  8.   The participants then heard a brief status of the 1997 plant genetic resources group and recommendations  which was reported by Dr. Te-Tzu Chang of the Academia Sinica, Chinese Taipei. He gave an overview of the genetic programs and survey of plant genetic activities of the 11 member APEC economies.


        He further took note of the trends in rice and wheat production being able to bring in billions of dollars to various economies, and emphasized that through genetics, serious food shortages have been staved off. Dr. Chang further explained the  process of the germplasm evaluation-research-enhancement in crop improvement: gene pools; characterization and enhancement. He said that in order for this to proceed efficiently, there must be an interplay of various disciplines, from pathology, down to extension. Moreover, Dr. Chang observed that of late, the traditional type of research has suffered greatly from the unbalanced competition with biotechnology.He reminded the participants that  evaluation and research in biotechnology should be partners in the plant improvement process. He also proposed for Japan, to contribute more to technology sharing since this country is more advanced in this area.


  9.   Participants from USA, Canada, Japan and Singapore lauded Dr. Chang’s insights, and agreed with him that biotechnology should go hand in hand with genetics.


10.   Dr. John Dobrinsky, speaker from the USA, asked about how APEC is going to address the issue of transgenic plants in the whole scheme of things. Dr. Chang explained that APEC can mobilize and form a task force. Though it is not an action body, he said, it can do a lot of collaborative work. On this note, Dr. Su-San Chang, Chief of the International Agricultural Cooperation Division explained the seven areas of APEC (biotechnology, pest control, quarantine, marketing, postharvest handling, etc.). She said that there is a big concern nowadays regarding the safety of transgenic plants. The “case approach” is already being undertaken to compare the guidelines and regulatory systems between member economies. She suggested that developed countries can also share their guidelines with other economies.


11.   The participants from Thailand, Drs.          Sawat Thummabood and Nuanmanee Pongthana commented that in their country, the conventional method is still a potent tool in increasing plant and animal yields. Although biotechnology in breeding chicken is already being done, Dr. Thummabood observed that more farm inputs are being spent in this type of technology. Dr. Pongthana, on the other hand, said that fish research in their country is a combination of the traditional and biotechnology methods, although the latter is still in its infancy stage.


III. Keynote Lecture: Value and Importance of  Farm Animal and Aquatic Genetic Resources to Cultural, Social and Economic Development (Dr. Geoffrey Pollott, University of London, UK)


12.   Dr. Geoffrey Pollott of the University of London delivered the keynote lecture. His presentation gave an overview of the contribution of domestic animal to food security, citing that of the world’s 5.8 billion population, some 1.96 billion people  derive some livelihood from farm animals, 12 percent of whom depend entirely on livestock. He said that too often, people forget the various benefits that they get from farm animals like manure, hides and wool, medicine, cash reserves, foreign exchange earnings, cultural and social contributions, environmental protection, etc. He further emphasized that farm animals should be viewed in their “totality” rather than just sources of meat and eggs. Dr. Pollott also explained the co-existence that prevails between plant and animal diversity, and that 80 percent of the breeds that are “at risk” are in the developing countries. Furthermore, he defined the meaning of “breed,” the value of breed concept in FAGR, their commercial selected lines, the production and types of systems, value of livestock, impact of loss of FGAR diversity, and the sustainability of exotic and local breeds in tropical countries (productivity, stability, flexibility and equity) being key indicators of sustainability. He concluded by saying that diversity in domestic animal genetic resources has been  essential in reducing “risk” in livestock systems. Where environmental conditions are able to support high input systems, they are the preferred options. However, since a large portion of the world’s livestock and livestock farmers are found in areas where this is an unlikely scenario, he said the use of well-adapted breeds is the main option.


13.   Dr. Dobrinsky from the USA, commented that in his country, turkey semen preservation is controlled by only eight breeders, and this being the case, makes turkeys a “risky” population. Dr. Pollott said this is typical of commercial systems with very small population size.


IV. Special Lecture 1: In-situ Preservation Methodology for Farm Animals (Dr. Tsutomu Furukawa, National Institute of Animal Industry, Japan)


14.   Dr. Tsutumo Furukawa of the National Institute of Animal Husbandry in Japan presented his special lecture. He began by giving a historical background of Japanese animal production, saying that before, there was no demand for meat and milk products for 1,200 years up to 1868 due to religious reasons. He then proceeded to give an overview of the native animal genetic resources in his country, followed by a brief explanation of the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) gene bank project and its five sub-banks.

        Dr. Furukawa then proceeded to explain the difference between In-situ preservation and Ex-situ preservation (the former being conservation of live animals and the latter, cryopreservation), the problems of In-situ preservation, random drift and reduction of genetic variability, the genetic diversity idea (effective population size, inbreeding coefficient, coancestry, genetic conservation index, and coefficient of genetic contributory variation), and the four procedures in maintaining genetic diversity (mating system to avoid inbreeding, circular group mating system, cyclical group mating system, and use of information from genetic markers). In conclusion, Dr. Furukawa presented that the effective use is the best way to conserve native breeds with showing various slides of the local government-produced cross of chickens (using native breeds), buffalo and pigs.


15.   Dr. T.T. Chang lauded Mr. Furukawa’s lecture and said he is glad to know that Japan is making yet another milestone in breeding technology.


V.   Special Lecture II: Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (Dr. Geoffrey Pollot, University of London, UK)

16.   Dr. Pollott gave an overview of the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS). He said the multi-language, multi-faceted computer system is a communication and information tool for user countries. Likewise, it is a clearing house for information data, a secure system giving countries controlling, collating, releasing and maintaining data, and an element of the strategic framework of farm animal genetic resources. Dr. Pollott further added that the most interesting feature of this system is its availability on the worldwide web page (www. By surfing the web site, he said any user can have easy access to the vast array of data and information that DAD-IS provide. Inside is a library, guidelines for gene animal resources, and other pertinent information on animal and genetics.


VI.              Status Reports from member economies


17.   Drs. Hsiu-Luan Chang and Chun-Zen Shyu presented the current status of conservation and utilization of farm animal and aquatic genetic resources in Chinese Taipei. Dr. Chang started by reporting the importance of conservation of animal genetic resources in her country, citing figures and statistics from FAO. She then proceeded to discuss the objectives of nation program in germplasm preservation and the various methods being used for conservation and utilization of farm animal genetic resources. Next, she touched on how TLRI achieves this through various ways of maintaining live populations, cryopreservation of genetic resources, identification of genotypes, documentation and communication and exchange of information.  In the future, Dr. Chang said the main objectives and potential action plans include the establishment of a molecular-based data bank for animal genetic diversity, monitoring and exchanging, strengthening of human resource development, and the promotion of the efficiency of information exchange in animal genetic resources.


18.   On the other hand, Dr. Chun Zen Shyu discussed the conservation of farm animal and aquatic genetic resources in Chinese Taipei, starting off by enumerating the vast potentials of the country in developing aquaculture. For the purpose of establishing a germplasm bank for aquatic organisms, Dr. Shyu reported that a project was recently funded by the government to investigate the aquatic genetic resources in Chinese Taipei. He said results showed that most of the conservation of  genetic resources are done using the ex-situ preservation methodology (finfish broodstock, microalgae, etc.). However, he said government policies and institutions for conservation of genetic resources of aquatic organism is not yet well established. Because researches are scattered, a centralized germplasm bank is therefore needed in a subtropical area like Taiwan. Hopefully, he said, the germplasm will serve as a “window” for international exchange of information and germplasm of aquatic organisms between and among member economies.


19.   In the case of Canada, Dr. Jaweed Siddiqui reported that APEC and his country are always in close partnership with each other, and use the strategic approach in biodiversity. He said that as far as conservation of genetic resources is concerned, Canada’s main objectives are: conservation of biodiversity; sustainable use of resources; and equitable distribution. A germplasm, according to him, is also in the pipeline. Furthermore, he explained that the government of his country doesn’t want to ignore the conventional knowledge of biodiversity. At the same time, the communication strategies in order to efficiently disseminate information on biodiversity is also being developed. Dr. Siddiqui concluded that the priority of Canada is to share information, enhance awareness on aquatic resources, and develop capacity building and awareness in genetic resource conservation.


20.   Dr. Furukawa reported the following activities in Japan: organization of MAFF gene bank for animals (including its sub-banks);  overseas survey of animal genetic resources; list of collection preserved; items in database for characteristics of animal genetic resources, as well as its effective use. He ended his report by showing slides of native cattle, horses, goat breeds and the gene bank facilities.


21.   Drs. Ponghana and Thummabood reported on the aquatic and animal genetic resource conservation activities in Thailand. Dr. Ponghana started his discussion by showing statistics that prove the many possibilities and opportunities of aquatic conservation development in her country. She then zeroed in on aquatic resources utilization, its importance, and the future plans of her government.


22.   In the case of Thailand’s animal genetic resources, Dr. Thummabood said the government has allocated a five-year budget of 500 million baht for R & D. The plan, he said, is to replace the imported breeds and conserve and sustainable utilization of animal breed such as cattle, buffalo, poultry, goat and swine. The approach being used is updating so that the existing law that can allow people to  participate in animal breed conservation through breed certification, etc.


23.   Dr. Dobrinsky reported that in the USA, the National Genetic Resources Program (NGRP) has appointed a committee to develop strategies for plants, animals, insects, microbes, etc. The main purpose of this, he said, is to maintain genetic diversity. Moreover, species coordinating committees were formed to recommend, establish and advise the government on various genetic programs. Dr. Dorbrinsky also reported the NAGP database, research, funding, and the animal genome project. In the pipeline are future projects for research like the identification of QTLs and fine mapping of the genome, disease and parasite resistance, among others.


VII. Special Lecture III: Ex-Situ Germplasm Preservation Methodology for Farm  Animals (Dr. John Dobrinsky, Research Physiologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture-ARS, Maryland)


24.   Dr. Dobrinsky defined ex-situ preservation (1. Not including, without; out of, away from the original position) and presented a historical overview of how swine embryo preservation evolved: from the discovery of the pig’s sensitivity to cooling below 15 degrees celcius, to slow freezing techniques, delipation, and the vitrification technology. He said implementation of methodologies for long-term embryo preservation and transfer would provide a foundation for effective utilization of the world’s best genetic resources. Through a series of slides, he explained the studies he conducted on the said technology and made the following conclusions: in the field of cell biology, the discipline is headed towards cytoskeletal stabilization, lipid stabilization, mitochondrial integrity and the cell cycle. For cryobiology, the future holds bright for vitrification, hypothermic storage, super cooling, media modification, and IVP embryo preservation.


25.   The example that we can now preserve swine embryos proves that other species in which the technology is not available or the germplasm has proven difficult to preserve, with the right scientific method and persistence, nothing is impossible to preserve.


26.   Dr. Wu asked if vitrification can also work for poultry. Dr. Dobrinsky said that turkey semen preservation and short-term hypothermic storage is already being studied in the U.S. and abroad, but it is still in its infancy stage.


VIII. Panel Discussion and Recommendations


The participants were divided into two sub-groups. One discussed  aquatic genetic resources, while the other sub-group talked about farm animal and plant genetic resources. Each sub-group  presented a list of  comments and recommendations.   Below is a summary of the workshop recommendations of the member economies, which will be submitted to the ATC experts group for consideration:


The workshop recognized the value and importance of agricultural genetic resources to social, cultural and economic development to member economies.  It  also recognized the imperative need to conserve and utilize the farm animal and aquatic genetic resources in member economies. The participative approach in conserving and using  of genetic resources should be used. This would  involve consultations with  farmers, NGOs, the private sector, etc. within member economies.  The experts of this domain also need to devise action plans on a collaborative basis.


(1)   Initiate a cooperative program on genotyping of purified DNA among member economies for studies on genetic distance and the existing relationships between different breeds and monitor the collection, distribution and use of the DNA with respect to the sovereignty of the source country.

(2)   The budget is the number one constraint in solving the gene bank problem. Therefore, this group recommended that more budget should be allocated to this aspect in each  member economy.

(3)    A symposium on maintenance of genetic diversity to better understand genetic resources, management and utilization and their application for the benefit of agricultural practices should be conducted. This would include the plant and animal sciences and aquaculture and emphasize the following:

-                                        genetic information management systems

-                                        germplasm preservation research

-                                        animal genome research

-                                        gene bank and repository systems


(4)    It is important to include all breeds/species in the conservation and utilization program, regardless of their domestication or status in member economies.

(5)    A possible APEC  booklet or information package could be published and/or distributed on the relationship between indigenous animals and human, illustrating local agricultural implications.

(6)    This information should be integrated into the international framework. It is important to certain economies with indigenous breeds, their culture and non-agricultural implications.

(7)    The Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) should be fully utilized by member economies. It was suggested that  each member economy should provide an up-to-date inventory of farm animal genetic resources and updating the information on the DAD-IS.

(8)    Member economies indicated that owing to high diversity of aquatic organisms and different degrees of technical development of artificial propagation, a database for the germplasm of aquatic organisms of APEC region is urgently needed.

(9)    It was suggested that a questionnaire be designed by the Shepherd for the survey on genetic resources of aquatic organism and distributed to the designated coordinators of member economies. This should include questions  on aquatic germplasm, the status of artificial propagation, the information on data management system, world wide web address, list of personnel conducting the research and conservation work, including in vitro or artificial production and cryopreservation of genetic resources, etc.


27.   The delegates expressed their most sincere appreciation for the warm hospitality provided by Chinese Taipei.


28.   The chair thanked all the participants for their hard work and participation.