The 67th annual meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science got underway in Belfast this morning (Monday).
The conference - which is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time - will run to September 2 at the Waterfront Conference Centre in Belfast.
The theme is Sustainable Food Production: Livestock’s Key Role and around 1,200 delegates from over 60 countries will gather to hear the latest developments in animal science and discuss issues around how science can help secure sustainable food systems.
The conference is expected to boost the local economy by around £2.3M according to estimates from Visit Belfast.
More than 1,000 presentations will cover a huge array of tops ranging from beef and dairy cattle, sheep and goats, pigs and poultry, equine, aquaculture and fisheries.
Research topics will address all aspects of efficient and sustainable livestock production, as well as health and welfare, behaviour, environmental impacts, and everything else required for a safe, high quality livestock food supply chain.
As well as science-orientated sessions, delegates including farmers, food industry officials and policy makers will also be able to attend special half-day events covering issues such as succession in farming, food fraud and feeding animals to achieve healthy human diets.
Meanwhile the plenary session tomorrow (Tuesday, August 30) will cover land use and food security, with world experts Tim Searchinger (WRI, USA), Philip Thornton (ILRI, Kenya), J F Sousanna (INRA, France), Pat Dillon (Teagasc, Ireland) and Ian Givens (Reading University, UK) addressing how those issues can be balanced.
Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute’s Sinclair Mayne, head of the EAAP organising team, said: “This conference is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not just showcase Northern Ireland’s cutting-edge agriculture, but to show the world what farmers here and across the UK are doing to tackle the issue of sustainable food production.
“We’re incredibly excited to welcome some of the world’s top scientists and industry
leaders to share the latest developments in animal science and share ideas about how we can all work together to create sustainable food systems.”
Mike Steele, chief executive of conference host organisation the British Society of Animal Science, added: “This conference is the largest of its kind, making it an event that those interested in livestock production, animal science and the challenges the world faces in producing secure supplies of safe food cannot afford to miss.”