On Tuesday 9 June, an online seminar took place for all industrial and scientific partners of the Breed4Food STW Partnership Programme: predicting phenotypes of livestock. Around 70 participants joined for the online meeting in which researchers presented the latest results of the five Breed4Food research projects. They also gave an outlook of the funding possibilities and strategic themes of the future research direction.
It has been five years since the Partnership programme of Technology Foundationa STW together with the Breed4Food companies (Topigs Norsvin, CRV, Hendrix Genetics and Cobb Europe) started. During the partnership 27 researchers and the 4 Breed4Food companies joined forces to develop tools and insights to improve animal breeding by better prediction of phenotypes of livestock with genotyping and phenotyping.
The Partnership Day
Randy Borg from Cobb hosted the Partnership Day, looking back and forward on the research theme. He introduced Aldo Rossi, vice-president R&D of Cobb, the pitches of the five projects and the studio guests Lisette Krul (NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences, previously Technology Foundation STW) and Piter Bijma (WUR, Animal breeding and genomics).
The spin-off of this programme was discussed with the participants: What is the benefit of the results in daily work for the breeding companies and knowledge institutes? Which topics are interesting to continue? How can we use the strength of the consortium and the research institutes in the Netherlands? Lisette Krul presented the NWO funding possibilities especially focusing on the KIC 2020-2023 (Knowledge and Innovation Covenant) and the principal guidelines of funding for research in the theme ‘Agriculture, Water & Food’. All research in the KIC has to fit with the knowledge and innovation agenda of the related theme. Randy states that it is not always easy to marry scientific progress and the implementation of new technologies.
Piter Bijma reflected on what has been achieved in the past years, and discussed strategic research directions for the future. Biology based breeding, integrating functional and statistical genetic knowledge, will be the next step for genomic improvement of livestock. This requires further integration of molecular and quantitative genetics. Genomic selection erodes genetic variation more quickly than traditional selection. This is very relevant for B4F, as the breeding companies within B4F manage a considerable part of the animal genetic resources used for human food production. Furthermore, improvement of animal health and welfare is essential for the livestock production and breeding sector to keeps its societal licence to produce. Sensing technology and AI will facilitate such improvement.
The overall conclusion of the Partnership Day is that the success of the Dutch breeding industry is supported by long term strategic investments in livestock genetic improvement. The co-operation of the industrial and scientific partners in this program has proven to be beneficial for both the scientific progress in genetic research and the implementation of new technologies by the breeding companies.