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New Funding to Improve Disease Resilience and Sustainability in Pork Production

$9.8 million awarded to an Alberta – Saskatchewan-led research team

Canadian pork is exported to more than 100 countries and it is consumed throughout the world more than any other source of animal protein. It is big business and managing disease in pork populations is one of the most costly and difficult challenges for pork producers
Dr. Michael Dyck of the University of Alberta, Dr. John Harding of the University of Saskatchewan, and Dr. Bob Kemp of PigGen Canada Inc. are leading a team that has received almost $10 million in funding to develop genomics tools to help producers manage disease, reduce costs, and increase product quality. These genomics tools can be used to select pigs that are more genetically resilient due to increased tolerance of and or resistance to multiple diseases as opposed to resistance to one particular disease. The tools will also permit producers to manage the nutritional content of pig feed to ensure that pigs stay healthier, grow more efficiently, have more successful litters, and reduce the need for antibiotic use in pig production.
Image of a pig
Managing disease in pork populations is one of the most costly and difficult challenges for pork producers. In addition to its economic costs, disease likely contributes to public perceptions of animal products in terms of animal welfare, food safety and antimicrobial resistance. Genomics offers new ways to fight disease in pigs, reducing costs for producers, increasing product quality and improving public perceptions. This will become increasingly important as global demand for animal proteins rises in concert with growing populations.

The research is important at home and abroad because as Genome Alberta’s President and CEO Dr. David Bailey notes, “Canadians and our international clients want access to quality pork that has been raised in a healthy, sustainable, environment while still being an affordable source of nutrition for a high protein diet”.
The involvement of industry partners in this project means that within five years of its completion, the rate of genetic improvement and productivity will have an impact on pig production of more than $137 million, further improving the international competitiveness of the Canadian pork industry.
The 2014 LSARP “Application of genomics to improve disease resilience and sustainability in pork production” project is led by Genome Alberta and Genome Prairie.

The funding story behind this project shows what can be done when researchers, organizations, companies, and universities pool their resources.
The 9.8 million dollar funding package is made possible by approx. $3.9 million through the Genome Canada Large Scale Applied Research Project competition, and the balance from a diverse collection of funders:

  • Genome Canada
  • Genome Alberta
  • PigGen Canada
  • Swine Innovation Porc
  • Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency
  • Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and Food (Sask Ag Development Fund)
  • Iowa State University
  • PigGen Canada
  • French National Institute for Agricultural Research - EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation
  • Alltech Inc.
  • U.S. National Pork Board
  • UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council- Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes
  • Genome Prairie
  • Ontario Genomics Institute

The Large Scale Applied Research Project (LSARP) competition

The call for applications for the 2014 LSARP came out in June of 2014 to find new projects that fit the competition guidelines of ‘feeding the future’. The focus was on the application of genomics in the agri-food and fisheries/aquaculture sectors to address challenges and opportunities related to global food safety, security and sustainable production, and that contributed to the Canadian bioeconomy and well-being of Canadians.
Genome Canada, in partnership with the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF), has now announced the 11 successful projects resulting from that competition. These projects represent a total investment of $93 million: $30.8 million of federal funding through Genome Canada; $5 million from WGRF towards three of the projects; and, the balance from project co-funders.

New Funding to Improve Disease Resilience and Sustainability in Pork Production

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