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The challenge for the next 50 years is to increase the productivity of major livestock species to address the food needs of the world, while at the same time minimizing the environmental impact. The present review presents an optimistic view of this challenge. The completion of genome sequences, and high-density analytical tools to map genetic markers, allows for whole-genome selection programmes based on linkage disequilibrium for a wide spectrum of traits, simultaneously. In turn, it will be possible to redefine genetic prediction based on allele sharing, rather than pedigree relationships and to make breeding value predictions early in the life of the peak sire. Selection will be applied to a much wider range of traits, including those that are directed towards environmental or adaptive outcomes. In parallel, reproductive technologies will continue to advance to allow acceleration of genetic selection, probably including recombination in vitro. Transgenesis and/or mutagenesis will be applied to introduce new genetic variation or desired phenotypes. Traditional livestock systems will continue to evolve towards more intensive integrated farming modes that control inputs and outputs to minimize the impact and improve efficiency. The challenges of the next 50 years can certainly be met, but only if governments reverse the long-term disinvestment in agricultural research.
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