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History of EFFAB

The Start as FAIP

A number of animal breeders first joined in Utrecht in the Autumn of 1995, deciding to establish the Farm Animal Industrial Platform (FAIP). Industry grouped because of their interest in the present EC Biotechnology and Agriculture research programmes, to propose
future lines of research on farm animal reproduction and selection specifically precompetitive research, improved industry access to the research, to the technology transfer of results and to regulatory aspects. In 1999 FAIP became an official society, and in 2004 it changed its name into European Forum of Farm Animal Breeders (EFFAB).
 
Intellectual Property and Patent Watch
 
The regulatory aspects included to start with animal industry contribution to the European Directive for Biotechnological Inventions, where FAIP managed to get the special position of animals recognised in the proposed directive on patenting biotechnological inventions (1996-1998): there is now a distinction between farm animals and plants in the directive. A list of Q&A on patenting in farm animal breeding came to light (1997). When the patent directive came into force, a patent workshop was organised to highlight the consequences for the farm animal breeding industry (1998). A study on the consequences of patenting and intellectual property was undertaken as part of the Farm Animal Breeding and Society project (1998-1999) by the Sorbonne University, concluding amongst others that the sector is vulnerable for patent claims on already running businesses. In 2002 a number of members asked to set up a patent watch, and FAIP undertook a study on the trends in patenting, but it took until 2006 before the EFFAB patent watch came to life.
 
Research Representation
 
For the promotion of research in animal breeding and reproduction, we have been active in many ways. It started with gathering and prioritising research developments with research ànd industry, and promoting industry to become evaluator of EC project evaluations.
Position letters, papers and documents have been another form in which we have been making clear what research is needed, and more in general about developments related to research. But this was not enough. So there were partnering events and industry days of industry and research (1996, 1999, 2006, 2009), scientists have presented their results at the annual meeting. In 2004, the input from industry moved from Industrial Platforms to European Technology Platforms (ETPs): the latter would need to prepare a Vision on developments in the next 10-25 years, compile a Strategic Research Agenda and an Implementation Plan. ETPs are industry lead, but they have important input from research and other stakeholders as well. In 2005, EFFAB members and research representatives together with stakeholders prepared a Vision for 2025 as a joint initiative, and the Sustainable Farm Animal Breeding and Reproduction Technology Platform was officially launched in March 2006. EFFAB, EAAP, Roslin and Genesis Faraday obtained EC funding to develop the Strategic Research Agenda and Implementation Plan for FABRE TP – this exercise lead to the set up of working groups on 7 species, 3 technologies and 3 themes, and 34 live country discussions. Hundreds of breeders, scientists and other stakeholders were involved in this process. After the project funding the platform continues with funding from INRA, WUR, BKTN (formerly GF), Nofima and EFFAB. In 2009 FABRE TP gets officially recognized by the European Commission.
Every year the ETP gathers research priorities and communicates them. In 2010 and 2011 an update of the outlooks of the working groups is being planned.
 
The developments in Europe require cooperation with the other players in the animal area, and in the bio-economy. FABRE TP has been initiating together with INRA, WUR and BKTN(GF), Nofima, EAAP and the other animal technology platforms GAH (animal health), Eufetec (feed) and EATIP (aquaculture) the Animal Task Force, which aims to strengthen animal research in Europe. 
 
Promotion
 
In 1997 the members decided that the office should spend 50% of its time to non research related topics (e.g. cloning, patent directive) to address welfare, environment, facts and wishes of industry, and expected development in time, incl. risks. In 1999 it was decided that the organization is prepared to discuss welfare regulations as far as farm animal reproduction and selection is concerned if it is asked for an opinion. Over time EFFAB has been preparing back ground material, facts and outlooks on e.g. technologies, genetic diversity, sustainability, animal welfare. Examples are ‘The Economic Value of Livestock Production in the EU’ (1996, update in 2003), various position papers and opinions on sustainability (2000), cloning (1996, 2003, 2008), genomics (2000), biodiversity (1999).
Transparency, ethics and sustainability were worked out much into detail in EC funded projects on farm animal breeding and society (1998-1999) and sustainable breeding (SEFABAR, 2000-2003) in which animal breeders, scientists, ethicists, welfare group, consumer organisation, sociologists and economists participated. The ethicist Peter Sandøe made clear that sustainable breeding needs to include those areas where animal breeding can make a difference, not just only welfare, that is too easy. Sustainable animal breeding balances food quality and safety, environment, health and welfare, product quality, genetic diversity, efficiency.
Based on the principles of sustainable breeding a Code of Good Practice Code-EFABAR© was developed (2004-2005).
 
EFFAB and its members have been asked for opinions and contributions on intellectual property, welfare, environment, biodiversity, technologies, breeding goals increasingly over time. In 2007 it was decided to set up a working group to formalise the situation that had been a growing part of the EFFAB activities, and adapt the fees and fee structure to the real situation. The overload of work and the request to concentrate on work instead of communication to the membership had lead to a situation that not all members were up to speed with the activities of EFFAB. Since 2009 EFFAB has a realistic structure and set up with newsletters and newsflashes, active working groups, and an informative accessible web site.