Australian Group Opposes Registration of Embryo Transfer Foal

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia has announced it opposes a request from leading Australian breeder Jim Fleming for registration of a foal that was produced as a result of an embryo transfer.

"The rules adopted by the International Stud Book Committee do not permit the registration of foals that are born as a result of an embryo transfer and as the Australian Stud Book is a member of the International Stud Book Committee it is bound by these international rules," the TBA said in a statement from president Richard Turnley. "If the Keeper (of the Australia Stud Book) did decide to register this foal the decision would jeopardize the international recognition of the Australian Stud Book and all the horses in it."

According to the TBA, at a recent meeting of international breeders held in Ireland, attendees unanimously "rejected any proposals to register any foal born as a result of an embryo transfer." The motion was forwarded to the International Stud Book Committee, which also confirmed that the rules would remain unaltered, according to the TBA. John Digby, the Keeper of the Australian Stud Book, had forwarded a discussion paper on the subject of embryo transfers to breeders' meeting, which was attended by Turnley.

"Thoroughbred Breeders Australia abides by the democratically made decisions of the International Breeders Meeting and believes that the Australian Stud Book likewise abides by the rules of the International Stud Book," the statement said. "Therefore and quite simply, any request to register a foal born as a result of embryo transfer must be opposed and denied.

"It must be noted that the TBA is not opposing the registration on the basis that there is anything inherently wrong with the technique of embryo transfers," the TBA statement continued. "This technique is widely and successfully carried out with other animals. At this stage, the Thoroughbred breeding industry has not adequately debated the advantages and disadvantages of embryo transfers and a properly formed view has not been reached. It may well be that the industry may eventually reach a view that embryo transfers can be of net benefit to the industry but this position has not yet been reached and the TBA strongly supports the current ban on the registration of embryo transfer foals."

Noting that it is not opposed to any improvements in veterinary practices that would benefit the breed, the TBA said it is willing to debate the issue of embryo transfer. "In this regard it (TBA) is ahead of many other breeding countries who tend to be more cautious in openly debating such issues," according to the statement. "However, regardless of the relative pace of debate in the various breeding countries, the TBA supports the current international rules until such time as they are changed at an international level."