American, Canadian and French scientists have launched a US$53m research programme to decode the genome for cattle.

The project will try to sequence the entire cattle genome and provide new tools to genetically improve dairy and beef cattle "to enhance food safety and to protect the cattle industry against bio-terrorism," reported the New Zealand Press Association. New Zealand has contributed funding to the programme.

Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas and a cancer research centre in Vancouver, will carry out the bovine genome sequencing work.

Sequencing of the chicken genome is nearing completion, and it is anticipated that work on the pig genome will begin within the next two years.