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A blend of technology, sustainability practices and advanced genetics that is helping revolutionize the beef and dairy industries is emerging to address our global protein-deficiency problem.
That’s the estimated number of people around the world who are protein
a situation that can worsen physical and mental health conditions. And as the
world’s population grows and the demand for high-quality protein rises, the
crisis will grow even more serious.
In Central Africa and South Asia, 30 percent of children are impacted
by severe protein
For them, and countless others in similar circumstances all over the world, we
must improve the production of safe and affordable protein to feed our
Fortunately, a solution to this problem is emerging — a unique blending of
technology, sustainability practices and advanced genetics that is playing a key
role in helping revolutionize the
industries. Farmers and scientists are working together to develop more
resilient communities built on viable food systems — which, resultingly, are
having a positive impact on local economies, the environment and society as a
The key to success in this endeavor starts at the very heart of many rural
communities: farms and ranches. They are responsible for supplying most meals on
our plates — as 86 percent of US agricultural products are produced on family
farms or ranches, according to the American Farm Bureau
Federation. With the right tools and
technologies, we can enable farmers and ranchers to responsibly develop animal
protein faster and more efficiently to meet the world’s growing food demands.
It might be strange to think about — for many of us, food and technology may be
an odd pairing. But the opportunities are endless in applying technology-driven
innovations to breeding and production, which are opening doors of opportunity
throughout our food systems. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are
starting to see consumers become more and more comfortable with technology in
the food supply
so long as it is increasing
and enhancing animal health and wellbeing.
And the most impactful innovations are doing just that. Creative solutions in
bovine and porcine genetics and breeding methodologies are exciting and highly
practical technologies that are reaping benefits throughout our food supply
chain. These technologies are underpinned by deep knowledge of DNA and decades
of research and development that can help us determine which animals will
produce high-quality meat or milk before the animal is even born. This is
enabling us to deliver better protein to market — faster and at scale — while
conserving important resources including water, feed and land, and supporting
We are already seeing the tangible impact of these genetic solutions in the form
of beef-on-dairy breeding. This process involves the crossbreeding of dairy cows
with carefully selected beef bulls. The result? Healthier and more efficient
herds that contain more valuable calves. Calves that will contribute to the
future of the herd and produce both dairy products and beef cross calves that
will produce higher-quality beef — which helps build a more sustainable and
economically feasible food system.
Beef-on-dairy can help sustainably feed our communities while delivering on the
demand for high-quality taste and tenderness that consumers love. Also, by
coupling this practice with technology advancements that are reducing the amount
of climate-changing emissions generated by livestock, we are able to produce larger
volumes of protein while minimizing the amount of cattle-producing methane gas.
These are but two of numerous examples of how technology is helping accelerate
progress in the animal-protein supply chain. While we’ve made incredible strides
the past 50 years, we still have much to do to encourage broader understanding
and acceptance of these safe, effective yet often misunderstood techniques.
Animal protein is an important part of human diets, livelihoods, culture and
heritage. We must continue to push for acceptance of new and proven technologies
in our food supply chain, while investing in research to identify new ways
genetic improvements can help adequately feed our growing world with
high-caliber beef that is efficient, profitable and sustainable.
Published Nov 10, 2023 7am EST / 4am PST / 12pm GMT / 1pm CET
Dr. Matthew Cleveland, a geneticist by training, is passionate about using technology and innovation to create a more sustainable food supply. He leads Beef Sustainability and Product Development at Genus plc's ABS Global — a world leader in animal genetic improvement. Matthew is responsible for ABS’ overall beef sustainability strategy and, sitting at the interface between science-driven R&D and a customer-focused organization, he and his team develop novel products and deliver more profitable and sustainable beef genetics to customers around the world.
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.