New version online tool for monitoring animal genetic resources

Published on
December 13, 2017

FAO released an improved Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS). DAD-IS is an online database for animal genetic resources. The modernized version of DAD-IS includes new indicators to monitor the risk status of breeds.

DAD-IS allows users to access global information regarding farm animal diversity, to easily export data, and to calculate two Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicators. For the Netherlands, CGN is responsible for monitoring of breeds and for collecting relevant data to regularly update DAD-IS.

Three decades of collecting national data

The data in DAD-IS is a result of three decades of collecting national data from 182 countries. Currently, it contains data on almost 9000 breeds of livestock and poultry, including breed characteristics and information on distribution and demographics.

The biodiversity of around 40 animal species that have been domesticated for use in agriculture and food production is vital to food security and sustainable rural development. Many locally adapted breeds have characteristics that make them resilient to climatic stress and diseases. Over the years, they have adapted to their environments.

DAD-IS is a tool for planners, decision makers and scientists to analyse trends, to make informed decisions and forecasts, supporting the development and implementation of international agreements including the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, as well as national policies and strategies for the management of animal genetic resources.

"DAD-IS is a very powerful tool to inform policy-makers on potential risks, but a system is only as good as its content," said Roswitha Baumung, FAO Animal Production Officer. "There is still a big data gap. For almost two thirds of the world's livestock and avian breeds no information has been made available to monitor their extinction risk". This data is crucial to safeguard livestock diversity and contributes to feeding the growing world's population in the future," she added. “What is not measured does not exist. New in this tool is the possibility to calculate indicators for your own country and to export data.”

SDG indicators for safeguarding farm animal breeds for global food security

With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, the function of DAD-IS as a global data repository has expanded. The system enables countries to store relevant data and easily calculate indicators under Sustainable Development Goal 2 on Zero Hunger related to the maintenance of genetic diversity of farmed and domesticated animals (indicators 2.5.1 and 2.5.2.). Indicator 2.5.1 shows the number and percentage of local breeds for which sufficient genetic material is stored in gene bank collections for long term conservation. Indicator 2.5.2 highlights the proportion of local breeds, classified as being at risk, not-at risk or of unknown level of risk of extinction.
FAO calculated on the basis of information in DAD-IS that many of the world's local farm animal breeds are currently at risk of extinction. Examples include the Inyambo cattle in Rwanda, the H'mong pig in Vietnam, the Criollo Uruguayo sheep in Uruguay or the Limiá cattle in Spain. Moreover, the majority of native, local breeds in the Netherlands are also at risk.