ROME — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (F.A.O.) launched on May 22 a new Internet portal to provide information about livestock welfare.

Titled the Gateway to Farm Animal Welfare, F.A.O. officials said the portal is designed to provide a reliable information conduit on legislation and research findings in the animal welfare sector, animal welfare standards, practices and policies. Users are anticipated to be farmers and government officials, lawmakers, researchers, the livestock and food industry and non-governmental organizations.

The portal’s developers say it will provide an important forum for animal-welfare issues related to transport, slaughter and pre-slaughter management, animal husbandry and handling and the culling of animals for disease control.

Livestock production accounts for 40% of the value of world agricultural output and products of animal origin provide one-third of global consumers’ protein intake. Animals also contribute income, social status and security to approximately 1 billion people, including many of the world’s poor.

The center of gravity of livestock production has moved from north to south since the 1990s and several developing countries have emerged as powerful new players on the global scene.

"Any development program that improves animal health, increases livestock production and responds to natural disasters where animals are involved needs an animal-welfare component in it," said Samuel Jutzi, director of F.A.O’s Animal Health and Production Division. "This portal meets a real information need in this extremely important area."

Livestock welfare, health and productivity worldwide will have a better opportunity to be improved by giving less economically developed country governments, professionals and producers online access to the latest information and the opportunity to contribute information relevant to their own situation on this portal.

Animal-welfare standards compliance can open access to international markets for products from less economically developed countries. The portal will also offer on-line conferences and seminars.

F.A.O developed the web site with the European Commission, International Fund for Agricultural Development, World Organization for Animal Health, Compassion In World Farming, Latin American Poultry Association, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Brooke, World Society for the Protection of Animals, International Dairy Federation, International Federation of Agriculture Producers and the World Veterinary Association.