For many years biotechnological procedures such as artificial
insemination and embryo transfer have been an integral part of modern
animal husbandry, and they have resulted in the well-known and
recognized improvements in performance in agricultural animals. But
certain disadvantages could not be countered by these techniques: the
relatively slow annual rate of genetic progress (1-3%), the lack of a
way to separate desirable from undesirable traits by breeding, the
impossibility of transferring genetic information between species.
biotechnology and novel molecular-genetic tools already available and
others under development indicate that it will be possible to overcome
these limitations to breeding. Today "biotechnology in farm animals"
basically includes techniques in reproductive and molecular biology
intended to enhance performance, efficiency and health for sustainable
In the very near future the complete sequencing
of the genomes of important domestic animals will make it possible to
distinguish molecular phenotypes and thus improve the use of genetic
In view of the world's limited resources and increasing
population, biotechnology and novel genetic-molecular tools will
provide important resources for making animal production more
efficient, environmentally appropriate and economically viable.
Cloning and transgene technology will open new horizons both for
biomedicine and for many agricultural applications, particularly in
the area of product diversification.
The development and application
of biotechnology and genetic technology in animal breeding must be
accompanied by interdisciplinary research leading to more rational and
factual social and ethical discourse.