Over the last half century modern commercial agriculture has opted to cultivate relatively few breeds and varieties of species in its single-minded pursuit of cost savings and efficiency. For livestock producers, this has meant an emphasis on breeds that meet a narrow range of characteristics such as the animal’s size, growth rate, and ability to withstand the crowded conditions found on a typical factory farm. As a result, throughout the world, breeds of farm animals are disappearing at a rate of one per month.
The United Nations has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity, and not a moment too soon, because around the globe species from all walks of life are disappearing at roughly 1,000 times the natural rate.
Throughout history, farmers all over the world have raised a broad variety animal breeds to help feed their families and sustain communities. Unfortunately, the factory farm industrial methods of today rely on only a few specialized breeds. As a result, hundreds of animal breeds have disappeared, and with them, the genetic diversity they possess.