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Biodiversity and Livestock Producer Acceptance of Genomics: Evidence From Three Producer Surveys In Canada

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The advent of genomics in livestock breeding presents enormous opportunity for the selective breeding of livestock with a wide array of traits (disease resistance, milk productivity, feed efficiency etc.) of economic significance to different livestock producers-dairy, beef, hogs etc. With genomic selection, the rate of genetic change can be accelerated through the reduction in generation intervals, i.e. the ability to select younger animals for breeding, and increases in the accuracy of selection. The opportunity to attain accelerated improvement in specific traits directly linked with the economic outcomes of farmers is not without some downside. The huge number of producers selecting for the same traits could result in the loss of genetic diversity, possibly resulting in increased vulnerability to new disease outbreaks for example. The impact of livestock producer knowledge and awareness of biodiversity on their acceptance of genomic selection given the potential to quickly change genetic diversity has not been previously studied. If producer understanding of biodiversity is important to their decision making, then education on biodiversity can provide a basis for mediating the risk of too much emphasis on specific traits. In this study we evaluate the role of knowledge and awareness about biodiversity on the acceptance of genomic selection by dairy, cow-calf and hog producers in Canada. Three national producer surveys focussed on producer valuation of genomic information on different traits: feed efficiency (beef cattle); disease resistance (hogs); and, productivity and disease traits (dairy). Each of these surveys included two biodiversity scales- a knowledge scale, and a biodiversity awareness scale. Questions on producer sociodemographic characteristics, farm practices and attitudes were also included. We report results of logistic regression estimates of the effect of biodiversity awareness and knowledge scores on acceptance of genomics using a self-reported acceptance scale that measures producers’ perceived usefulness of genomics on a 7-point scale for each producer group surveyed.

This talk is part of the Biodiversity and genomics series.

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