An application of the use of safe minimum standards in the conservation of livestock biodiversity

This paper adapts the safe minimum standard (SMS) approach so as to explore its use as a potential policy decision support tool that can be applied to issues related to the conservation and sustainable use of farm animal genetic resource (AnGR) diversity. Empirical SMS cost estimates are obtained using data from three AnGR economics case studies in Mexico and Italy. The findings support our hypothesis that the costs of implementing an SMS are low, both when compared with the size of subsidies currently being provided to the livestock sector (<1 percent of the total subsidy) and with regard to the benefits of conservation (benefit-cost ratio of >2.9). Nevertheless, despite providing a potentially useful AnGR conservation decision support tool, a critical assessment of the application reveals that a much more extensive quantification of the components required to determine SMS costs needs to be undertaken before this tool can be applied in practice.