Wednesday, 8 July 2015

As Ancient Livestock Disappear, Frozen Embryos Restore Ancient Breeds

Geoffrey Koch | July 07, 2015 01:14am ET

Geoffrey Koch is a Portland, Ore.-based science writer who has written for The Dallas MorningNews, ScienceNOW, Portland Monthly and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @geoffreykoch. He contributed this article on behalf of the SVF Foundation to Live Science'sExpert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

A few short miles from the fabled oceanfront mansions in Newport, Rhode Island, a quiet effort has been underway for years to save a commodity that might be more valuable than any industrialist's fortune, past or present: genetic material from vanishing livestock breeds. 

Recently, deposits of this genetic material have increased to an unusual bank, the SVF Foundation, with vaults containing not cash and gold, but cryopreserved animal embryos, semen and blood. Fueling the increase is one of the first successful applications of in vitro fertilization (IVF) forrare livestock breeds anywhere in the United States, if not the world, according to Dorothy Roof, SVF's laboratory supervisor. [Heritage Livestock are Vanishing Across the United States (Photos )]

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