Disappearing Farm Animals

By George Grow

This is the VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT.

United Nations officials warn that many animals important to agriculture are disappearing forever. The U-N Environment Program and Food and Agriculture Organization released a report with the new findings. The findings are based on information collected in one-hundred-seventy nations during the past ten years.

F-A-O officials say the world has lost about one-thousand kinds of farm animals in the past one-hundred years. The officials say many other breeds are still in danger. They warn that one-third of them are at risk of disappearing.

About two-thousand-million people depend at least partly on farm animals to earn money. That is one-third of the world population. F-A-O officials are concerned about farmers producing enough to feed the world's growing population. They warn that meat, milk and egg production will need to increase by more than two times during the next twenty years.

F-A-O officials have gathered information about more than four-thousand kinds of bird and animal populations. Seven-hundred-forty of those breeds no longer exist. More than one-thousand-three-hundred others are said to be endangered or at high risk of extinction.

Many of them are very important farm animals. For example, in Madagascar, Renitelo cattle have almost disappeared. In The Philippines, the Banaba chicken is now rare. Fewer than one-thousand of the birds remain. In Mexico, the Chiapas sheep are at risk of disappearing.

The report warns that more than two-thousand other breeds could disappear within the next twenty years unless action is taken. It says the greatest threat is the export of animals from industrial to developing countries. It says this can lead to replacement of some native animals.

The report says animals from industrial nations often are considered more productive in developing countries. However, it says these animals are best for the environment of the areas they come from. It says they may have a difficult time surviving under extreme conditions.

The F-A-O says having different breeds of animals is a way to protect against loss of animals from severe weather conditions or the spread of disease. The U-N agency is starting a five-year project to help countries better understand the issue.

This VOA Special English AGRICULTURE REPORT was written by George Grow.