Framework for the conservation and sustainable use of Animal Genetic Resources

Management and use of animal genetic resources are subject to political and legal frameworks, international agreements, national laws and regulations. There are various committees and responsibilities which are actively dealing with the implementation of measures and programmes.

Calf of the breed Rotes Hoehenvieh, © BLE

Legal Framework

Although there is no special policy and legislation for the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, animal genetic resources are affected in many ways, exempli gratia by EC law, by the national Animal Breeding Act and veterinary legislation, by the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU as well as by promotion and aid rules. In addition to that, other fields of agricultural, commercial, research, and, at national level, environmental and nature conservation policy as well as development co-operation are relevant too. On the basis of EC rules, the German Animal Breeding Act is the essential legal basis for the breeding of farm animals of the species horse, cattle, pig, sheep and goat. The Act was amended on 21st December 2006 and among other things now expressly sets the objective of maintaining genetic diversity. This is also to be promoted by the provision of public funds. The responsibility for the implementation of the Act lies with the Bundeslaender.

National Programme

In 2003 the Conference of Agricultural Ministers (Agrarministerkonferenz, AMK) adopted the "National Programme for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Animal Genetic Resources in Germany".

The three main objectives of the National Programme are:

  • The monitoring, id est the regular check of the population genetic status of the indigenous farm animal breeds, is the most important requirement. The regular consolidation of the data of individual animals from herdbooks, the comparison of the data, and the check of the data banks for consistency and plausibility will in future enable a far-reaching and altogether objective and scientifically sound statement as to the degree of endangerment of a population. On this basis, the indigenous breeds are classified by the National Committee into different categories of endangerment.
  • The establishment, design, maintenance and management of a National Cryobank of the endangered indigenous farm animal breeds is another central objective of the National Programme. This measure serves to safeguard the breeds' genetic potential in the long term, and as a component of sustainable breeding programmes. First, at least hundred portions of sperm of at least 25 sires (if possible not related to each other) per endangered indigenous breed are to be stored.
  • Another goal is the development of sustainable breeding programmes aiming at the conservation of genetic resources. These programmes have to be formulated, incorporated in the herdbook systems of the breeders' associations and, finally, to be implemented by breeders, with the breeders' associations' technical support.

National Committee on Animal Genetic Resources

In July 2003, the German Society for Animal Production (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Zuechtungskunde, DGfZ) appointed the National Committee on Animal Genetic Resources following proposals of the senior animal breeding consultants of the Federal Government and the Bundeslaender. The National Committee's members represent the entire administrative, operative and scientific area of animal breeding in Germany.

Its aim is the initiation and coordination of measures for the conservation of animal genetic resources in Germany. It prepares recommendations and gives guidance for the selection of actions and decision making regarding the implementation of measures by the Federal Government, Bundeslaender, breeders' organisations and associations.