In Scotland, scientists are looking to produce meat more sustainably and efficiently.
"There's no point in having an animal produced and then it dies from disease, there's no point in having matings which are not productive," Bruce Whitelaw, professor of animal biotechnology at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy.
"All of those traits are governed by genetics and environmental and feed input," Whitelaw added. "And we are looking at each aspect of those to try and improve."
When animals many of us depend on for food are affected by illness and disease, the consequences can be devastating.
Some strains of Avian influenza, for example, can affect humans, causing symptoms such as fever, bleeding from the nose and gums, and vomiting and diarrhea.
Now, scientists are looking to find ways to mitigate risks associated with such diseases.
"The advance that we've made so far is to genetically modify chickens so that when they're infected with bird flu they don't pass it on to other birds," Helen Sang, personal chair in vertebrate molecular development at the Roslin Institute, said.
"This is very early stage but we are convinced that this is an approach that, if we develop it further or others develop it further, would give us genetic resistance to avian influenza," Sang added.