Nordic animal gene banks – added value through Nordic cooperation (NordFrost)
The Nordic region has numerous diverse native breeds of farm animals (including fish), which are now regarded of great importance to the future prosperity of animal production in the Nordic countries, as genetic biodiversity allows the expression of advantageous traits influencing adaptability to harsh environments, productivity or disease resistance. It is likely that selecting for naturally occurring traits will help overcome anticipated future difficulties in livestock production due to climate change, including global warming and more extreme weather patterns (droughts and floods). As such, there is an urgent need to protect and conserve animal genetic resources, not just as an “insurance” against acute threats such as disasters or disease epidemics, or a source of genes for contemporary breeding, but also as part of our national heritage.
All Nordic countries have developed national strategies and plans for implementing the Global Plan of Action for animal genetic resources. However, there is a big variation in how much the countries point out the importance of ex situ in vitro conservation in the form of gene banks. Furthermore, the existing conservation programmes in the Nordic region are generally organized at the national level with no or limited cross-border collaboration. The main objective of this network will be to develop a regional action plan for Nordic ex situ in vitro conservation programmes that will serve as a new tool to increase resilience of agriculture in the Nordic region. There are many possibilities to strengthen the Nordic political ties by developing new collaborative models to strengthen the Nordic infrastructure, and to advocate a uniform Nordic strategy for ex situ in vitro conservation of animal genetic resources. The main objective of this network will be to develop a regional action plan for Nordic ex situ in vitro conservation programmes that will serve as a new tool to increase resilience of agriculture in the Nordic region.