BLACKSBURG, Va., -- When David R. Notter graduated from Southwestern High School in Gallia County, Ohio, thirty years ago he knew he wanted to work with animals, but helping provide food for growing populations worldwide never crossed his mind.
His work with animals since then has taken him from farm fields in the U.S. to China, Brazil, India, and other developing countries. Largely because of that work, Notter, a professor of animal and poultry sciences at Virginia Tech, has been awarded the prestigious American Society of Animal Science's award for breeding and genetics.
That research not only helps farmers in rural U.S., but it also helps farmers in remote foreign areas develop breeds that are uniquely suited to their environments. His work has led him to consulting work for the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization in developing global strategies for management of livestock.
"We must have animal protein in our diets," said Notter. "When an emerging country develops economically, the most immediate thing that happens in the agriculture sector is that there is an increased demand for animal protein."
That can create pressures on the environment, the ecology, and the production system. Some of those pressures can be lessened so far as farm animals are concerned by slowly introducing new breeds to the genetic pool of animals already in the country.
"Every valley and mountain at one time had its own breed of chicken or sheep or whatever," Notter said. "But now the same breed of chicken is sold all over the world."
The creation of a few breeds of animals that do exceptionally well in the U. S. or in other developed countries doesn't mean those breeds will do well in other areas. The pressure to introduce those breeds into other cultures should be resisted, he said.