Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg, professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology at VA-MD Vet Med, was asked to participate in an international workshop to develop breed conservation guidelines for the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
Sponenberg’s team consisted of six people from various places around the globe, including India, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and the United States. The workshop took place in a small hotel overlooking Lake Como in northern Italy. Participants were invited specifically due to their theoretical genetic backgrounds and their government and privately owned farms. The team goal was to provide a sound framework for effective conservation decisions by governments and other entities involved in breed conservation. Sponenberg’s role was to determine the best approach to field situations with private breeders and breed associations.
The first draft of the FAO guidelines has now been completed and is in the process of final polishing and approval. Sponenberg’s team approach should be seen as a validation of previous approaches and successes over the last few decades.