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World Authority on Cattle Genetics Wins Medal

14 June 2012

AUSTRALIA - New South Wales Department of Primary Industries’ (NSW DPI) animal genetics research leader, Dr Paul Arthur, has been awarded a prestigious Public Service Medal.

NSW DPI Deputy Director General, Michael Bullen, has congratulated Dr Paul Arthur for his inclusion in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for outstanding public service in the field of animal breeding and genetics.

“Dr Arthur is based at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) near Camden and is a world authority on the genetics of feed efficiency which contributes to reduced emissions of greenhouse gases by cattle,” Mr Bullen said.

“His publication in 2001 on genetic parameters for feed efficiency – which he co-authored with colleagues from NSW DPI – is still on the prestigious list of Top 50 most-frequently cited papers published by the international Journal of Animal Science.”

That paper is currently the third most-frequently cited paper ever published by the American-based journal.

Dr Arthur migrated to Australia in 1991 and started with the NSW Agriculture beef research team at Grafton, then moved to Trangie where his research on feed efficiency in beef cattle with his NSW DPI teammates, including Dr Rob Herd at Armidale, gained international prominence.

The focus of the research is now on reducing greenhouse emissions by cattle, by a strong team of NSW DPI staff at Trangie, Armidale and EMAI.

Dr Arthur has recently emphasised the need to accelerate the rate of genetic progress in animal and plant breeding schemes over the next five decades.

“Agricultural production faces many challenges, including the potential impact of climate change and diminishing water and energy resources, in feeding a global population expected to double in the next 50 years,” he said.

He says DNA analysis now makes it possible to dramatically improve genetic progress for most traits at a reasonable cost, including traits that are difficult to measure.

“Previously growth and carcase meat quality could be selected for and now traits which are difficult to measure, such as feed efficiency can also be improved, both for its own sake in reducing the cost of beef production, and as a means to reduce greenhouses gas emissions, made possible by the use of DNA–based genomic selection.”

Dr Arthur has written more than 200 scientific publications and is a frequent speaker at international workshops and conferences, and has been called on to evaluate research projects and programs in many countries, most recently his native Ghana.

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