Conference Told of Genetic Manipulation in Breeding

(from Asian Racing Conference release)
The growth in genetic manipulation could send the breeding sector into “disarray”, delegates attending the 31st Asian Racing Conference in Dubai were told Jan. 25.

Speaking at a drug control workshop on the conference's final day, John McCaffrey, director of veterinary services for Racing Victoria, said the rapid changes involving genetic development go to the very heart of breeding and could turn the industry upside down.

“We’re not there yet, but it’s not that far away,” said McCaffrey. “We’re not prepared for it. I can see even more challenges on the horizon, and some of it is ‘Star Wars’ stuff.”

Varying approaches to testing and regulation continue to bedevil the drug control issue – and the lack of any global harmonization challenges the essence of “racing without borders”.

“The Europeans seem to be moving to a pharmaceutical approach and we’ve been doing that method since 1964 and it doesn’t work, whereas the Americans have a more clinical approach,” said McCaffrey. “We have to look to the technocrats and the administrators to sort it out. It would be a lost opportunity if that mechanism isn’t started now.”

Shawn Stanley, chief analyst for the Singapore Turf Club, said it had recently acquired new equipment that is capable of identifying previously unknown substances and elucidating the structure.

“There’s lots of software coming out that enables you to put forward the data and see if there’s any differences, and that can go on for chemical analysis,” he said.

Commenting on the global testing impasse, Terence Wan, head of the racing laboratory at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “We need substantially more resources and co-ordinated efforts to increase our testing capability.”

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