Discussion created on 05/21/2013

Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan

Farm Animal Genetic Resources of Pakistan are playing a vital role to produce high quality animal protein for 180 million masses. With alarming situation of food security issues globally, Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable country to looming food security crises due to its huge and rapidly growing (2.4%) population. Multiple factors may be held responsible for unsatisfactory food security situation in Pakistan:

1.Currently Pakistan is producing 35 billion litres of milk from a colossal population of about 60 million cows and buffaloes. Pakistan is quoted to be the 5th largest milk producing country but this is being achieved at a heavy price by maintaining 5 million lactating animals as against technologically advanced countries like Germany has three times smaller cattle population, but German dairy animals are producing 5 times more milk per animal compared to Pakistan.

2.There is even grave situation in meat sector where per capita availability of animal protein recommended as a minimum limit to support normal health and growth, falls significantly shorter than required. Total meat production in the country is estimated to be 22 million tons from 90 million sheep and goat population however, still there is more than 50% gap for rural population for urban settlements it is more than 20%. Poultry sector has however, given a major support to slightly improve white meat supply by contributing approximately 25% to the total national meat production. This industry however, poses serious strain on already crippled economy by an order of 4 billion US$ worth of imports annually.

3.With an increasing trend of entrepreneurship and family efforts to achieve better social status, the life style of mainly urban as well as rural populations in Pakistan is shifting towards modernization. This is partly due to increased per capita income in 2012 (1256 US$) when compared to $ 450 in 1999. In fact many indigenous and global factors including socio-political situation are also becoming important indicators of social change in the country.

4.This dynamics is directly reflected in changing food habits and improving dining quality in Pakistani masses. This is increasing pressure on all stakeholders of dairy and livestock sector of Pakistan to produce more animal protein in the form of milk, meat and eggs for being prime dining products all over the world. There is a greater than ever need to strive for changing the approach from short term to long term and from horizontal expansion to vertical lift of our dairy and meat genetic resources by developing indigenous animal genetic resources for sustainable livestock production as against the mass scale importation of exotic genetics.

This may be a short term measure to fill the gap in supply demand of milk and meat products however, this does not present a longer term solution to food security issues rather poses potential threats to biodiversity of the area.

Already, we have witnessed this happening at mass scale through the importation of hybrid seeds in crop sciences. It has not only destroyed the local seed industry but has also completely changed the biodiversity picture of the country. The indigenous plants are becoming rare whereas the exotic seeds and plants with a new set of ecosystem implications are taking over.

Consequently we are paying a heavy price for higher per acre yield compared to local seeds, through the destruction of indigenous fauna and flora with indiscriminate use of insecticides, increased cost of production and new environmental challenges to face ahead. We can expect nothing different to what we have already witnessed in the case of hybrid seed and exotic poultry genetics, that we have not only lost our local plant and poultry genetic resources but we have become permanently dependent upon exotic seeds and grand parent flocks of poultry at such a mass scale that Pakistan’s economy can hardly afford it.

Neglecting Pakistan’s dairy and meat genetic resources may also result into a permanent deprivation from our soil born genotypes of cattle, buffalo sheep and goat which are not less than any superior dairy and meat breeds except for their inherent potential has not been challenged yet through concerted efforts. Another very fundamental issue is to identify exactly that what type of human resources are needed to address issues regarding national food security situation.

For the last 65 years Pakistan’s livestock sector has been predominantly oriented to produce veterinary health professionals with a little emphasis on enhancing productivity through feeding, breeding management and genetic improvement. There is an utter need that our efforts should be directed in the right direction so that already scarce resources should not be wasted as they have been since the inception of Pakistan.

Skilled human resource development in livestock production sciences seems to be only way forward to address this situation and to increase milk and meat production through scientifically controlling livestock populations and upgrading them for high milk and meat yield per animal by significantly reducing time to achieve this goal. This can only be possible by designing and implementing sound breeding programs at the national level to produce high yielding dairy and fast growing meat animals with is an essential part of the total animal production system. Traits of economic significance in livestock farming show continuous variation, thus the production capacity and physical appearance of livestock population can greatly be changed through judicious, planned and selective breeding.

With the advent of modern genetic and genomic technologies and 3rd generation genome analysis procedures, it has now become very much likely that both the reliability and time taken to significantly improve genetic worth of farm animals can be improved by predicting near to realistic breeding values of these animals for milk and meat production.

Dr. Ahmad Ali
Associate Professor
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
21/05/2013 | Nice effort to depict the situation across Pakistan ....the proposed issue need to be addressed on priority basis...
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
04/06/2013 | A nice attempt ........Appreciated
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
05/06/2013 | Well thanks dear Ibrahim for the appreciation, however we should be worried about how can we save our most precious indigenous genomes from shelfing and eventual extinction under the onslaught of corporate genetics in dairy especially because, in case of poultry we have already lost our grounds (almost) because poultry industry now means, only, the GGP or GP flocks imported along with all the inputs for health and management worth billions of dollars, if we want to do some commercial poultry production. In doing so most of the local genotypes have either disappeared or rapidly disappearing leaving vaccum to be filled by commercial poultry. This not only means complete dependence for food security but also paying a heavy costs in terms of biodiversity errosion and colossal ecological consequences. All the dynamics when pooled results in climatic change, which our economies are not able to sustain. So this is a catch 22 and only way to come out of this situation is to start working strategically from now and would need to find and convince our governments to spare longterm commitment to develop local genetic resources.
Muhammad Saleem
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
01/07/2013 | The pre-requisite for the indigenous Livestock biodiversity conservation is phenotypic as well as genetic characterization to document the adaptive, productive and reproductive traits that can help in designing appropriate breeding strategies . Our team has phenotypically characterized two of the important indigenous breeds i.e Achai cattle and Azikheli buffalo and our publications can be seen at the following links:
1. http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11250-011-0071-3.pdf
2. journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S207863361200080X
3. journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S2078633613000027
4. http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd23/12/khan23246.htm
5. www.tropentag.de/2010/abstracts/full/949.pdf

Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
02/07/2013 | Dear Dr. Saleem thanks for your post and also the information about your work. By commenting that we need to move forward from phenotypic characterization does not mean to undermine the value of it, however with the advancement of next generation genomics it is now possible and very cost effective sequence genomes and find particular breed signatures for documentation. Which is more contemporary and reliable. I thank you and hope you will contribute further to add to our knowledge about the work happening at your end and also to see if we can work together.

Subodh Kumar
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
11/07/2013 | I wonder if veterinary experts in Pakistan have seen the A1A2 milk researches by NewZealand scientists. "Devil in the milk" by Keith Woodford is the main source of this very important research. Indian veterinary experts are now aware of the fact that Indian breeds of Cows belong to the 'ancient' breeds of cows and are the natural producers of A2 milk.. A1 milk has been found to be harmful for human health. The entire NZ and Australian farmers are aiming to convert all their herd HF cows are producers of A1 milk.
It is therefore important to avoid cross breeding with HF and preserve the natural advantages of local breeds to produce more benign A2 milk.
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
11/07/2013 | Well Dear Mr. Kumar this is something of a new origin even for me and I need to go through this thing in order for me to bring issue up to the professionals in Pakistan. I believe if this is something of real nature, it can bring a revolution for the revival and genetic improvement of our indigenous breeds. However, I am a bit skeptic if the Billions of Dollars worth of Corporate Genetics Industry would want to bring this up to light because very large sums of financial stakes are attached to it. It is just like the Petrol mafia is not letting the alternative energy sources to develop and be marketed until their stakes are attached to petrodollars!
Subodh Kumar
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
11/07/2013 | Sir,
Your fears are perfectly valid. But progress of mankind and the world can not be halted by self promoting scientists and business interests. All setbacks are temporary and should not dishearten us. Truth finally prevails.
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
11/07/2013 | Dear Mr. Kumar I really value your convictions and maturity of your thought, however, we must be conscious of the ground realities of our globe. Well, I believe you should have already gone through this article of Dr. Thomas Cowans in the BOVINE periodical. For the benefit of other fellows I am copying it as under:

“The Devil in the Milk” — Dr. Thomas Cowan on how the A1 – A2 factor explains why even raw milk sometimes does not seem to be enough of an improvement over “store-bought”

The trouble is that we have “the wrong kind of cows”. It seems the black and white cows — Holsteins and Friesians — generally give milk that contains a small but significant amount of beta-casein type A1, which behaves like an opiate and which epidemiological studies have implicated in heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism and schizophrenia. This is big news, folks. Heart disease is the leading cause of death. This is like cigarettes and cancer. Dr. Thomas Cowan, co-founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation has published this fascinating introduction to the subject in his email
“I have been involved in thinking about the medicinal aspects of cow’s milk virtually my entire career. As one four-year-old child pointed out to me many years ago, “Mommy, I know why he always talks about milk, his name is Cow—an.” So, I guess this milk “obsession” is no surprise.
The obsession started in earnest about 25 years ago when I read the book The Milk of Human Kindness Is Not Pasteurized by maverick physician William Campbell Douglass, MD. This was one of the most influential books I have ever read. I became convinced that a large part of the disease in this country is related to the way we handle, or rather mishandle, milk and milk products. Raw and cultured dairy products from healthy grass-fed cows are one of the healthiest foods people have ever eaten. It is the very foundation of western civilization (not that this is necessarily so good). On the other hand, pasteurized, particularly low-fat, milk products have caused more disease than perhaps any other substance people are generally in contact with. This view was re- enforced when I met and joined up with Sally Fallon and learned the principles of the Weston A. Price Foundation. End of story, I thought – I could stop thinking about milk.
Over the years, every once in a while Sally would say to me, “You know we have the wrong cows here.” I had also heard this from assorted bio-dynamic farmers but didn’t really know what to make of this or whether this was a medical issue I should be tackling. All along, though, something was not quite right. It remained unmistakably true that many of my patients, in spite of eating only the proper dairy products, still had illness and still seemed not to tolerate milk. Truth be told, for most of my adult life I myself couldn’t drink any kind of raw milk without feeling a bit sick and congested. Somehow my story with milk wasn’t quite finished.
Along came the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) and the use of low dose naltrexone, both of which I have described in previous Fourfold newsletters, but the relevance here is that many patients only improved and recovered when they eliminated milk (but not other dairy products) from their diets and took a medicine that stimulated endogenous (one’s own) endorphin production. Then, a further nudge on this topic showed up about a month ago. I was asked to consider writing the foreword to a book called The Devil in the Milk, written by agribusiness professor and farm-management consultant Keith Woodford. In this book Dr. Woodford lays out the theory that there is a devil in some of our milk, and this is something we need to come to grips with.
Here is a brief synopsis of the main thesis of his book. Milk consists of three parts: 1) fat or cream, 2) whey, and 3) milk solids. For this story we are only concerned about the milk solid part, as the fat and whey don’t have this “devil”. The milk solid part is composed of many different proteins which have their own names, lactose, and other sugars. It is the protein part of the solid we’re interested in. One of these proteins is called casein, of which there are many different types, but the one casein we are interested is the predominant protein called beta- casein.
As you may or may not know, all proteins are long chains of amino acids that have many “branches” coming off different parts of the main chain. Beta casein is a 229 chain of amino acids with a proline at number 67 – at least the proline is there in “old- fashioned” cows. These cows with proline at number 67 are called A2 cows and are the older breeds of cows (e.g. Jerseys, Asian and African cows). Some five thousand years ago, a mutation occurred in this proline amino acid, converting it to histidine. Cows that have this mutated beta casein are called A1 cows, and include breeds like Holstein.
The side chain that comes off this amino acid is called BCM 7. BCM 7 is a small protein (called a peptide) that is a very powerful opiate and has some undesirable effects on animals and humans. What’s important here is that proline has a strong bond to BCM 7 which helps keep it from getting into the milk, so that essentially no BCM 7 is found in the urine, blood or GI tract of old-fashioned A2 cows. On the other hand, histidine, the mutated protein, only weakly holds on to BCM 7, so it is liberated in the GI tract of animals and humans who drink A1 cow milk, and it is found in significant quantity in the blood and urine of these animals.
This opiate BCM 7 has been shown in the research outlined in the book to cause neurological impairment in animals and people exposed to it, especially autistic and schizophrenic changes. BCM 7 interferes with the immune response, and injecting BCM 7 in animal models has been shown to provoke Type 1 diabetes. Dr. Woodford presents research showing a direct correlation between a population’s exposure to A1 cow’s milk and incidence of auto-immune disease, heart disease (BCM 7 has a pro-inflammatory effect on the blood vessels), type 1 diabetes, autism, and schizophrenia. What really caught my eye is that BCM 7 selectively binds to the epithelial cells in the mucus membranes (i.e. the nose) and stimulates mucus secretion.
For reasons which are unclear historically, once this mutation occurred many thousand years ago, the A1 beta casein gene spread rapidly in many countries in the western world. Some have speculated that the reason for this wide spread of A1 cows is that the calves drinking A1 cows milk and exposed to the opiate BCM7 are more docile than their traditional brethren (in effect, they were stoned). This is only speculation, of course. But what is true is that basically all American dairy cows have this mutated beta-casein and are predominantly A1 cows.
The amazing thing for me is that all these years Sally was right: it’s not the fat, it’s not the whey, and it’s not raw milk. Consider French cheese – mostly due to culinary snobbery, the French never accepted these A1 breeds of cow, claiming they have lousy milk. Voila, they have good milk and cheese. Our issue in America is that we have the wrong cows. When you take A1 cow milk away, and stimulate our own endorphins instead of the toxic opiate of BCM 7, some amazing health benefits ensue.
So what are we all to do with this? Does this mean no one should drink US raw cow’s milk? One saving grace, as expressed in The Devil in the Milk, is that the absorption of BCM 7 is much less in people with a healthy GI tract. This also parallels the ideas of GAPS theory which talks a lot about this. BCM 7 is also not found in goat’s or sheep’s milk, so these types of milk might be better tolerated.
One final point: we now have one more thing to put on our activism to-do list. Dr. Woodford explains that it is fairly straightforward to switch a herd to become an all A2 herd. No genetic engineering is needed, no fancy tests, just one simple test of the Beta-casein and it can be done. Hopefully, when this becomes widespread we will end up with a truly safe and healthy milk supply. Then maybe I should just change my name. ”

Subodh Kumar
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
11/07/2013 | Dr Ahmad Ali Sir,
Many thanks for your exhaustive note on A1A2 milk.
in 2o11 there was a seminar held in Hotel Meridian Delhi, under sponsorship of CII.From USA two delegations one from from HF association and one from Jersey Association were on the dias. You may be aware that jersey milk is more A2 and much less A1 type. But HF milkis nearly all A1 type. I specifically asked HF delegation about future of A2 milk in USA. I was very surprised to hear him say that A2 milk is going to be the future milk for the world. HF association has already been able to isolate some HF bulls that have A2/A2 allele.He said that they expect that they will successfully develop A2 milk producing HF cows in future. Till that time entire world dairy interest is in dumping their surplus HF herds on less thinking countries like India who are attracted only by larger milk production and lot bothering about public health considerations.
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
11/07/2013 | Well my dear same is happening with Pakistan too, that Australian and American HF is being imported in Bulks to set more and more corporate level dairy farms to overcome milk shortages in Pakistan especially in summer months. However, this account is an eye opener for us to campaign for no importation of A2 HF from anywhere in the world. I believe there needs to be a FORUM at South Asian Level to highlight this issue to save our future generations and sell the importance of indigenous dairy animals.
Subodh Kumar
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
11/07/2013 | Dr Ahmad Sir,
You have hit the nail on the head. I fully agree with you about a forum to protect our A2 herd. But I do not find any interest in Govt of India about preserving our A2cow breeds. Even in NZ it is a private farmer association decision to convert their herd to A2 milk.NZ Govt had deferred a decision on this subject. This needs a very good consumer awareness about importance of A2 milk. In India average consumer is not educated and aware about these niceties, besides our media is heavily depending on funding b big dairy sponsorship. Fortunately in India in urban areas people are becoming more aware of this.
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
11/07/2013 | This is a good news that people in urban areas of India are getting more awareness, I think any regional event and then national campaigns will also be required to bring this issue up

Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
12/07/2013 | In a recent study, I have investigated that Rural Dairy Farmers were receiving very little/no services from Govt Sector. Buffalo was seen as main Dairy Animal but Nutrition, Poor Reproductive Performance due to lack of awareness and Extension services, Small Landholding of dairying households, Lack of interest in Dairying by the literate people and poor Storage systems of Raw Milk along with lack of formal Market had come out as main problems. HF is being imported by the investors and investors only rely on account books instead of Conserving Genetic Resources. By correcting DMI of our indigenous breeds is quite likely to produce better results and could attract these investors to join hands with experts. Unfortunately, our politicians seek guidance from the drawing room experts who seldom know base level strengths and weaknesses. Therefore; a policy decision is required to bring in the above discussed changes to make sure hygienic milk supply. Drawing Policies and Five star seminars would never bring about any change.
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
15/07/2013 | Dear sir,thank you very much for your contribution in the forum. I really value your findings and indeed each one of us know it very well that no one needs to harm us because we are very good at doing it for ourselves. Your findings are very valuable and I hope on the basis of these findings we must work together to at least devise some plans and strategies. However, as you know and everyone of us, be it the public sector or private sectors, no one will be willing to take up right direction and support for real programs which would be result oriented, but until then we would need to keep hammering the nail otherwise, if we stop too in our disappointment there will be no one to take the mission forward.

Yes we need to have a policy decisions as soon as possible, but who will take these decisions and who will guide them to take those decisions. We seem to be sadly divided into our personal domains and personal gains and would not like to accept others to be the expert. Similar is the case in UAF and UVAS. The chronic divide between production and veterinary domains has further incapacitated any hopes. My dear in order for trying to make a difference, we would need to keep working as much as possible and as long as we are required.
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan

Emerging technologies in Animal Breeding and Genomics are recently transforming the way, Animal Breeder used to think, plan and work. Whole emphasis of Animal Breeder was to maximize production per animal in most efficient way possible. But in doing so, the scientists have been completely disconnected with their end clients i.e. consumers of their products. Another aspect of this productivity enhancement through genetic improvement has been to completely ignoring the welfare aspects of their target species. Although this has enabled us to produce substantially greater amounts of milk, meat, eggs and other animals food products to not only address the global food security issues but also notable business returns and cost effective prices to the consumers. However, in doing so the issues regarding long term Animal welfare are now being arising as a serious concern for animals breeders. So the concept of “HUMANITARIAN AGRICULTURE” is emerging fast and interventions of welfare nature in Animal Breeding and Genomics are now increasingly being considered, such as adaptability traits and fitness to local environments, than ever before.

Similarly in the absence of direct linkages between the two disciplines, issues of FOOD SAFETY and effects of GMO foods are posing a big social challenge to mankind. In line with this debate the indiscriminate exports of improved genetics to developing countries and resulting crossbreeding with local breeds is not only posing threat to the very existence of these indigenous livestock breeds but its long term ecological and environmental/climatic consequences are also being felt at the global level. As a result of crossbreeding practices all over the world, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture (FAO) wing is now also concerned and their efforts to frame and implement Global Plan of Action (GPA) for Animal Genetic Resource Conservation (ANGR) can be clearly seen as its top agenda item as a discipline of Animal Genetic Resource Conservation has emerged in the recent years
Attached to this, are the changes in our societies happening rapidly, especially to living and eating behaviours that are raising serious public health concerns. People are now living less active lives with more animal protein intakes causing large scale health hazards such as high cholesterol levels, more diabetic patients and morbidity in our societies.
Another worth discussing point in this regard is that RUMINANTS are not naturally created to consume grains, rather their farming needs to be based upon the utilization of low quality roughages so that farm animals do not compete with humans in grain consumption. These issues have gone neglected for long, by the Animal Scientists and needs to be addressed by undertaking research to produce efficient animals to produce better in grazing conditions. Further, intensive farming for more milk, meat and egg production is also becoming bigger source of environmental pollution and can only be addressed through producing “RIGHT ANIMALS”.

About complex human – animal interactions touching cultural and financial frontiers, the only way forward seems to be that both communities (SOCIAL AND ANIMAL SCIENTISTS) come on board jointly to complement rather than being at critical end to each other. This way enormous opportunities cab created to interact in a complementary way to plan and work for a PROSPROUS, HEALTHY, FOOD SECURED, SAFE ENVIROMENT WITH NO CLIMATIC THREATS AND IN THE SAME MANNER PRODUCING ANIMALS THAT ARE WELFARE ASSURED.
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
25/07/2013 | Nice informative article. It is very unfortunate that we are losing battle, however,all is not lost. In Azad Kashmir, we had some very good indigenous breeds of Livestock, but due to lack of planning, we are at the verge of losing most of them, especially small ruminants, where situation is alarming. The Livestock census are all bogus, they paint a very good picture, but on ground it is totally different. So when the basic pillar (livestock population) is incorrect how can the planning go in right direction.
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
25/07/2013 | Well this is correct Dr. Zulfiqar Kuthu but where we stand today is all due to the chronic neglect of those people who are at the helm of affairs since long without any contribution. We only believe in personal gains and that is the real barrier to achieve tangible outcomes. There is a need for all of us to join our forces together, accept each other's contributions and work together rather than working in isolation which has and is resulting in deterioration and further..............
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
25/07/2013 | Yes sir, totally in agreement with your statement. It is in the best interest of nation that we all join our hands and try to rectify the livestock industry. I am at your disposal and sir can I have your email. Best of luck in your future en-devours.
Re: Food Security through Animal Genetic Resource Conservation in Pakistan
25/07/2013 | Dear Dr. Zulfiqar in order to play a positive role in this rotten society we need to show a courage which we all lack and no body speaks truth or want to listen to it. And whosoever does it they are made a lesson like me. Well no body wants us to contribute to the system but if we in good books of our officers no matter how much dirty we are, you will have no problems but if you are not then no matter how good you are you have see what I have been subject to. Anyway my email is ahmadali65@hotmail.com

Good luck and regards
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