AQHA Required to Register Clones
AQHA Announces Plans to AppealIn an announcement that will probably surprise few, AQHA have indicated their intent to appeal the ruling made two days ago that found the organization to be in contravention of antitrust ("restriction of trade") laws by not allowing the registration of clones.
While the cloning argument tends to raise hackles on both sides of the discussion, the fact is that cloning of equines is here whether one approves of it or not. This means that an organization that registers horses - any organization - would be well-advised to encompass a regulation that will protect its membership from potential fraudulent use of clones. A rule preventing registering clones unfortunately does not do that. If a stallion is cloned, there is currently no way to differentiate between a foal sired by the DNA donor stallion or the clone, so fraudulent use of semen could result in an organization unknowingly registering offspring of clones in their main stud book.
It has long been our view (Equine-Reproduction.com's) that registries as a whole - not just AQHA - should be prepared to register clones with the same registration number as the donor animal, plus a suffix (e.g. 123456-a, 123456-b etc.), while at the same time microchipping all the animals involved (donor and clone[s]). Any work involving a recordable performance (competition, breeding etc.) would then require reading of the microchip to confirm identity. This will allow tracking of the clones and their genetic input, which is good from all perspectives of the argument - whether you agree with cloning or not.
AQHA Found to be Violating Texas State and Federal Antitrust LawsAfter three days of deliberation, the five-woman, seven-man jury determined that the AQHA's Stud Book and Registration Committee and top AQHA officials violated two sections of the Sherman Antitrust Act ("restraint of trade") and Texas statutes by barring the plaintiffs' horses from its registry.
In 2012, Amarillo veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen had worked on developing rules for the AQHA to allow the registration of offspring of clones. It had been thought that the proposed rule changes would be acceptable until the last moment when they were rejected. Subsequently he and rancher Jason Abraham of Canadian, TX sued the 280,000-member organization, seeking to overturn the association's Rule 227a, which has barred cloned horses from the AQHA registry since 2004. While they have proven successful in their suit, it remains to be seen if AQHA will appeal the decision, or if further legal action will be required to oblige AQHA to actually implement a rule change. A similar situation occurred in 2000 when breeder Kay Floyd successfully sued the AQHA under the same statutes regarding limitation of registration of foals produced by embryo transfer. In that situation, although Floyd was successful, acceptance of registration of the foals was not immediately implicated and further legal work was required to enforce the results of the initial case.
Another "Equine Reproduction Notable" Leaves UsDr. James Voss, an icon of equine reproduction research and a pioneer in the modern reproductive research field died on Friday. Dr. Voss retired in 2001 as Dean of Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, a position he held for 15 years although his career at the University spanned 43 years having commenced in 1958. In 1977 Dr. Voss was instrumental in the ground-breaking for CSU's new facility that would ultimately bear his name - the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. This facility has flourished over the years to become a leader in the field of equine reproductive research and treatment in addition to producing many notable Veterinarians.
In the 1990s, Dr. Voss became a "household name" in equine reproduction when he co-edited (with Dr. Angus McKinnon) what at that time became the definitive text book in the field: "Equine Reproduction" - commonly referred to by most users not by the title but as "McKinnon and Voss". Dr. Voss was a mentor to many and respected by many, many more for his abilities, knowledge and humour. Dr. Voss is survived by his wife, Kay, of Fort Collins; sons, Ed and Bill; and daughter, Laura.
A memorial service is set for 11am, Tuesday, July 16, at the Hilton Fort Collins, 425 W. Prospect Road. In lieu of flowers, the Voss family requests donations to the Colorado State University Equine Reproduction Laboratory. To donate, click here and select "Equine Reproduction Laboratory (ERL)"; or send a check payable to "CSU Equine Reproduction Laboratory" to CVMBS Dean's Office, 1601 Campus Delivery, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1601, Attn: Dr. Voss - ERL.
Noted Equine Reproduction Researcher Dr. Michelle LeBlanc DiesIt is with the deepest regret that we announce the death of noted researcher and veterinarian, Dr. Michelle LeBlanc. Dr. LeBlanc was noted for her interest and research into mare infertility, late pregnancy problems - with a particular interest in placentitis - and embryo transfer. With much of her research being used on a daily basis today by equine reproductive veterinarians world-wide, Dr. LeBlanc performed and published valuable research into the use and effect of oxytocin to assist pregnancy establishment and maintenance in mares with uterine clearance issues.
Dr. LeBlanc was for many years associated with the University of Florida, having been their Director of the Equine Research Program. More recently, Dr. LeBlanc had been working at Rood & Riddle Veterinary Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, who last month renamed their equine reproduction center the "LeBlanc Reproduction Center". Among many honours received by Dr. LeBlanc, she was named 2000 Theriogenologist of the Year and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Equine Veterinary Association in 2011.
Dr. LeBlanc, who died on Saturday of ovarian cancer, which she had been battling for several years, was 58. A fund has been established by the Theriogenology Foundation to honour LeBlanc's legacy. It is the organizers hope that the fund will become large enough to establish an endowment fund in order to honour her in perpetuity. Donations in LeBlanc's memory or honour can be sent to The Theriogenology Foundation, P.O. Box 3007, Montgomery, AL 36109, USA.
Are Clones Fertile? Well Yes They Are!Cloning history has been made with the birth of a foal in Texas. The as yet un-named filly shown at left was born April 10th and is by a clone of a World Champion Quarter Horse gelding "Go Wild" out of a clone of a 3 time World Champion Quarter Horse mare, "Spring Fling", who had been unable to produce a foal of her own. This is the first recorded instance of a foal being produced by a clone and out of a clone.
Equine-Reproduction.com To Present at CFERWe are pleased to announce that Equine-Reproduction.com's Jos Mottershead has been again invited to present at the Colloquium For Equine Reproduction being hosted by the British Society for Animal Science and being held at Nottingham University on 17th April.
The Colloquium is in its fourth season and combines an ability to present new scientific information to veterinarians, students and the public with an opportunity for veterinarians, researchers and breeders to meet and discuss ongoing issues and needs related to the subject. More details are available by following the linked image to the left.
Plaintiff in Failed Australian AI Case to Seek Leave to AppealLawyers for Australian Thoroughbred AI litigant, Bruce McHugh, have made application to lodge an appeal against the judgment. McHugh's lawsuit, an attempt to require the Australian Jockey Club to permit the use of artificial insemination (AI) in the breed failed just before Christmas. The request will be made before three Federal Court Judges and the decision should be handed down in short order.
Horse breeders worldwide will be interested to see if the Court will allow a review of the case, thereby possibly reopening the doors to end what many - both within and outside the Thoroughbred industry - perceive as an archaic restriction. Others will however consider this as a prospective new threat to the traditions of the industry.
CEM Outbreak in California Expands to Multiple HorsesOIE have announced that the CEM situation in California that initially involved a single Lusitano mare has expanded and currently involves 12 animals - ten stallions and two mares. The "index mare" (the mare originally identified as infected) had been bred using both live cover and AI methods to a 20 year old Lusitano stallion which has now been tested positive for presence of the CEM-causing organism Taylorella equigenitalis. This stallion was imported in 2003. While details are limited, the fact that so many stallions are immediately considered at risk and that AI has been used to breed the mare suggests that a semen collection facility or breeding farm may be at the center of focus as the location common to all animals. In 2008 a similar situation occurred where the point of transfer between stallions was thought to possibly be the breeding mount used for semen collection. Many semen collection facilities now routinely wrap the back of the mount with disposable plastic wrap which is changed between each collection involving different stallions, or alternatively wash down the mount after each collection.
Mare Tests Positive for CEMO in CaliforniaThe OIE (Office International des Epizooties - the World Organisation for Animal Health) today reported that a 17 year-old Lusitano mare located in the Fresno region of California (USA) has tested positive for presence of the Contagious Equine Metritis organism (CEMO) Taylorella equigenitalis. It is reported that the bacterium was identified in a pre-breeding evaluation and that there has been limited breeding exposure not known at this time to have involved any horses outside California. The mare has been placed in quarantine and treatment commenced.
This latest case has not been linked to previous outbreaks at this time, but will certainly represent a concern to US horse breeders who had been hoping to see a possible reduction in restrictions placed on shipping semen to Canada following the outbreak in 2009.
Australian Court Hands Down Thoroughbred AI DecisionAlmost a year to the day after final arguments were presented, Mr. Justice Robertson has handed down his long-awaited decision.
In a case that has been before the Australian courts for several years, lawyers for Bruce McHugh - a Thoroughbred breeder and past chairman of the Sydney Turf Club - argued that the Australian Jockey Club's refusal to register Thoroughbred foals produced through artificial insemination represented a restraint of trade and a breach of the Trade Practices Act. Supporters of the Jockey Club's stance argued that the ban kept Australian Thoroughbred breeding on a par with International Thoroughbred standards. The hearings took place in September and October of 2011 and involved over 40 witnesses. Final arguments were presented in December of that year, and the Judge withheld his decision until today...
Mr. Justice Robertson's judgment presented today found in favour of the defendants, The Australian Jockey Club Ltd., et al, indicating that a refusal to register foals produced as a result of AI was not a restriction of trade. The decision will come as a relief to the defendants as well as to some Australian Thoroughbred breeders, who saw the action as a threat to International recognition and Registry reciprocity of the Thoroughbred produced in Australia.
While McHugh's case focussed on a restraint of trade argument, it is surprising that the vocal Australian animal rights movements - which has succeeded in causing a ban on racing over fences in most Australian States and of Steeplechasing in the State of Victoria - have not questioned the welfare of stallions that are obliged to breed as many as 250-300 mares a year by live cover, and this in some cases in less than a six-month period. Some of those stallions breed that many mares or more when placed in a "shuttle" situation, moving from the Northern hemisphere's February to June breeding season to a repetition in the Southern hemisphere's August to December season. The stress placed on some of these stallions can be considered to be significant, and if the Thoroughbred industry does not police itself in the matter, it should be a concern for all - inside and outside the Thoroughbred industry - that at some point it will be policed for them by others. AI would have seemed a simple solution, with the ability to breed multiple mares from a single ejaculate, as well as the use of cooled or frozen semen which can be shipped within the country or Internationally.
So for the moment, the Status Quo remains, but for how much longer, one has to wonder...
FEI Changes Position on Clones in CompetitionAt it's Spring Meeting held in Lausanne, Switzerland, on the 8-9 June, the FEI reversed it's previous decision to not allow clones in competition. The following statement was issued: "The FEI will not forbid participation of clones or their progenies in FEI competitions. The FEI will continue to monitor further research, especially with regard to equine welfare."
As a variety of past competition horses have already been cloned, we applaud the decision, and look forward to some interesting competitions in the future involving clones!
There has as yet been no further decision made by the AQHA or the courts on the issue of the AQHA registering cloned Quarter Horses.
Clones, AI and LawsuitsAt almost the same time as the FEI was presenting their position objecting to the use of cloned horses in competition, the AQHA was receiving notification of a court action opposing that organization's refusal to register cloned Quarter Horses.
The case has been brought against AQHA by Texas breeder Jason Abraham and his companies "Abraham and Veneklasen Joint Venture" and "Abraham Equine Inc.". The argument they are presenting is that by refusing to register cloned Quarter Horses - despite the DNA clearly demonstrating that they are indeed genetically Quarter Horses - the AQHA is violating the Sherman Antitrust Act as well as the Texas Business and Commerce Code. Since 2008, the AQHA have formed committees to consider rule changes to allow cloning, as well as the stud book committee itself considering those changes. The Association has consistently denied any rule change that would permit the registration of cloned Quarter Horses. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the case means to the FEI, as reining - which predominantly involves Quarter Horses - is now included as an FEI sport.
It has always been the position of Equine-Reproduction.com LLC that breeds and registries should register cloned animals by issuing the same registration number as the donor animal, plus a suffix (e.g. 123456a would be the first clone of animal 123456; 123456b the second and so on). The cloned animals would also be required to be microchipped, and any record-related work (e.g. competition or breeding) be confirmed as to which animal was involved at the time of the action by reading the microchip.
Regardless of the "ethical" arguments - and those opposing cloning often tend to be somewhat ethereal and not scientifically-based - a failure to register clones by a breed or registry is potentially encouraging fraud on the part of it's membership - and that is always a bad policy for a breed organisation! This problem in particular surrounds the cloned stallion, as a foal produced from semen from a cloned stallion will carry the exact same DNA as if the foal was produced from semen from the original (the donor) stallion. The potential for abuse if a stallion dies or goes sterile is obvious.
On another lawsuit front involving assisted reproductive technology, the decision in McHugh v. Australian Jockey Club Ltd. should be imminent, the closing arguments having been made in December last year. This case involves the Thoroughbred industry's insistence that no A.I. be permitted to produce a Thoroughbred horse. The arguments opposing the use of AI are typically specious and the welfare of a Thoroughbred stallion that is required to service as many as 300 mares by live cover each year has to be questioned. The international implications of a finding in favour of McHugh in this case are significant.
Stay tuned as we will report the progress and decisions on both cases as we hear them!
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