The International Centre for Underutilized Crops (ICUC) has a position paper on the use of biotechnology to promote and develop neglected and underutilized species. You can download it here. The study concludes that some biotechnologies, eg tissue culture and microproagation, have proved effective in enhancing the use of neglected species, but that others, eg DNA fingerprinting for genetic diversity studies, have resulted in only limited practical benefits. The risks associated with applying biotechnologies include centralization, intellectual property protection and the formation of genetic bottlenecks.
National Geographic reports on a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that concludes that goats “accompanied the earliest farmers into Europe some 7,500 years ago, helping to revolutionize Stone Age society”. Goats are genetically much more diverse than other domesticated animals. This suggests they spread more quickly, and moved more rapidly, than other livestock.
There’s a conflict between helping farmers to get more value from niche varieties or neglected species and ensuring that the market does not become oversupplied as a result of others emulating that success. BBC News reports on the plight of vanilla growers in the Comoros Islands as the rest of the world cashes in on high vanilla prices.
Dutch Belted cows are also called “Oreo cookie cows” because of their three stripes. Introduced to the United States from Holland in 1840 by P.T. Barnum for use in his circus, they are now endangered, with a global herd of less than 1,000. So the SVF Foundation is collecting sperm, fertilized embryos, blood and tissue. You can read about it here: “Campbell’s Soup heiress Dorrance Hamilton established the foundation in 1998 on a property in Newport that includes the Swiss Village, a restored turn-of-the-century dairy farm, and part of Hammersmith Farm, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ childhood home.”