Improved animal performance is the primary impetus for trade. Some of the factors taken under consideration when deciding whether or not to import include: the potential to increase level of productivity, presence of a unique characteristic that is not present in indigenous populations (e.g., high ovulation rate), and ability to efficiently produce in a particular production system.
In terms of cash revenues the international exchange of animal germplasm is not large. U.S. imports and exports combined are less than 0.5% of the beef and dairy industries' annual cash receipts. Table 1 provides the level and value of imports and exports from the United States. The trade in semen composes the largest segment of germplasm trade. However, cash values do not account for the impact that exported or imported germplasm has on long term productivity (or national economic activity), which could be quite large. The future value of genetic resources is a key element in the valuation of genetic resources and may play an important role in bilateral and multilateral trade agreements.
Ownership of traded germplasm is diverse, ranging from individual breeders, artificial insemination companies, national and multinational breeding companies, and governments. As a result, germplasm is being exchanged for a wide variety of purposes (e.g., research and altered productivity). Regardless of the trader the same phytosan-itary and multilateral and bilateral trade agreements control the movement and exchange of germplasm.
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