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From the Ground Up: Embracing new tech to reinforce tried and true

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 10:57 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - There are hands working to make sure that we not only get the food we need for gameday, but also so we can enjoy these luxuries for generations to come. That will include tried and true practices, while also embracing ways of the future, thinks Cliff Lamb, the Department Head of Animal Sciences at Texas A&M University.

“Food security is really important, and that’s what drives me a lot when it comes to how we prepare folks to go into a system that can actually, have an impact on the security of our food system moving forward.”

Lamb grew up in Zimbabwe, where he saw firsthand impacts of food insecurity.

“In the late 1990s about 6000 of the livestock or agricultural operations were nationalized, they were taken away and what happened over a 3 year period of time is there wasn’t a system available to produce food in the country and they went from feeding as many as five neighboring countries to not being able to feed a quarter of their population

Lamb uses that experience as motivation for embarking on new frontiers in the field of agriculture, thanks to gene editing.

“Being able to determine whether an animal is going to be sick and detect that in the animal prior to showing clinical signs so we can treat that faster.”

Lamb also wants sustainability to go beyond responsible land management.

“We could potentially produce animals that produce less methane, we could produce animals that have black coats, white coats, yet everything else is the same, so they could handle hot temperatures,” Lamb says.

“From an animal welfare standpoint that means we don’t have to de-horn animals. these are all future opportunities that gene editing may provide us.”

This new tech may be expensive upfront, but Lamb says it’s worth it in the long run

“If we’re going to lead the global security of animal protein we have to be doing research and encourage teaching in that area.”

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