The National Animal Germplasm Program has added swine to its collection, a decision that could lead to better-quality animals and ultimately to improved pork products.
In 1990, Congress mandated NAGP to be part of the Agricultural Research Service's National Genetics Resources Program. Located at the ARS National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colo. Industry consolidation has led to concerns about less genetic diversity in swine. By collecting swine germplasm, NGAP will help provide breeders with the genetic tools necessary to develop animals with disease resistance and other important traits, according to NAGP coordinator Harvey Blackburn.
Researchers also are starting a national breed survey and have developed software to sample breeds. They are sampling two breeds a year and hope to repeat this process every 10 years.
Research also is underway to improve germplasm cryopreservation, a process in which semen is preserved at extremely low temperatures.
More information about the program is available on the web at http://www.ars-grin.gov/nag/