Report of a seminar held in London on 16-17 February 2010 to discuss criteria and thresholds for breeds at risk

The movement for the conservation of endangered farm animal genetic resources ('breeds at risk') gathered pace through the twentieth century. It started with small governmental initiatives, such as the 'Kerry Cattle Area' in Ireland, in the early years of the century, but became a powerful force in the second half of the century. The creation of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945, followed by the growth of specialist NGOs dedicated to endangered breeds twenty years later, generated a momentum that is recorded in the key paper in AGRI 41 (2007) "Passing on the fire - To further inspire people to contribute to the managment of animal genetic resources".

The global spread of the movement inevitably led to different priorities and variations in the interpretation of risk. Whilst this did not cause problems in some activities, it increasingly caused difficulties in Europe where regional criteria were at variance from those applied at national level. The problem had been recognised since the early 1990s but had not been addressed with any positive outcome. Therefore, in February 2010 a seminar was convened in London by Lawrence Alderson to explore the possibility of achieving harmonisation of criteria and thresholds to define FAnGR breeds at risk. Invitees to the seminar included representatives of FAO and the significant policy-making organisations in Europe, and a report of the discussions has been published.

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