On August 13, 2015 the Livestock Industry Conference on Genetics will convene panels of internationally regarded scientists to discuss the role of livestock genetics in addressing issues of animal health, animal welfare and public health. The conference takes place at the Granlibakken Resort in Lake Tahoe, California and will provide up-to-date information on how advancements in animal genetics are providing concurrent solutions to issues of public health and animal welfare.  

“Increasingly, discussions of animal welfare and public health are one in the same, as discoveries in genetics have produced techniques that address both questions with increasing efficiency and effectiveness,” said Mark Walton of Acceligen “For this reason, we felt the time was right to bring scientists and industry representatives together to discuss how genetics may prevent the next crisis in animal and human health.”

The scientists participating in the conference are among the most respected voices in livestock genetics and will present their most compelling breakthroughs on this subject matter.

Dr. Elizabeth Maga, from the University of California, Davis, will be speaking about her work to extend the benefits of human milk beyond infancy by genetically engineering dairy animals to contain protective human milk antimicrobials. Her work has shown that milk containing human lysozyme provides benefits to both human health and food safety.

Dr. Subramaniam Srikumaran will present the findings he made in developing a technique for producing cattle that are less susceptible to Shipping Fever, a multifactorial disease responsible for over $1 billion in losses to the U.S. cattle industry each year. Dr. Srikumaran is using genetics to modify the white blood cells of cattle in a way that makes them less susceptible to the toxin believed to be the primary cause of losses from the disease. 

Dr. Helen Sang of The Roslin Institute has developed chickens that do no transmit the avian influenza virus to other chickens with which they are in contact. Her work provides evidence that genetic approaches can prevent bird flu outbreaks from spreading within poultry flocks. The most recent bird flu outbreak has cost American egg producers millions of dollars and increased the price of eggs and egg products for consumers, This research could also reduce the risk of bird flu epidemics leading to new virus epidemics in humans.

“The science of genetics has progressed to the point that we can change one DNA letter out of the 3 billion or so that make up livestock genomes,” said Dr. Dan Carlson, an industry-leading scientist who will also address the conference. “As our knowledge of genetics and genomes continues to expand, we have the opportunity to channel our findings into developments that will truly improve the health of animals, the environment we share with them as well as the health of humans who come in contact with livestock,” said Carlson. “It is the responsibility of both the academic and business community to ensure that our breakthroughs are meaningful and applicable on a large scale and this conference will be a great starting point for those discussions.”