Environment / ILRI / Innovation Systems / Livestock / Opinion Piece / Pro-Poor Livestock / Spotlight

Scarce, but real, resources (a little essay on the dairy cow prototype and refineries of the future)


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Scarce, but real, resources

Patterns of living have changed little over the centuries in many villages of the developing world. Material possessions are few; luxuries come in the form of a regular rainfall, a fertile womb, a disease-free harvest. Life is intimately bound to the land and the changing seasons. Peoples’ needs in many of these regions are still in balance with their natural resources. But the resources are scarce, the balance fragile, the changes coming fast.

New ideas beget new possibilities

Informa­tion, ideas and technologies generated by re­search provide the skeleton on which hu­man develop­ment everywhere and at all times de­pend­s. New ideas, embedded in techno­logical change, drive human growth, allow­ing us to escape the grim statistics that haunt peoples of the developed world and the hardships that face peoples of the developing world. New ideas beget new products, new markets, and infinite new possibilities for sustain­able development. Especially in places with severely limited natural resources.

Refineries of the future

Refineries of the future will be small, mobile and chemical, able to search out their own inputs, to self-heal and to replicate without human interven­tion. The dairy cow, pro­duc­ed through millions of years of evo­lu­tion, is such a refinery. Millions of recipes also exist for com­bin­­ing elements—atoms and genes—in ways we have not yet dis­covered. We under­estimate the dairy cow prototype—the power and number of ideas yet to be discovered.

New ideas

New know­ledge, which begets new technolo­gies and policies, is generated through research. Develop­ment and diffusion of new ideas creates growth. Solving problems that have been with us for millennia requires support for the whole of the innovation process—encompassing basic research, technology development and community action. This is the only kind of development the world has sustained over the long term.

A Happy and Productive
World Environment Day
from all of us at the
International Livestock Research Institute

with thanks to Japanese artist Miroco Machiko for her endless verve and inspiration

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