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Genetic Considerations

Genetic Diversity

36. We understand that national databases exist which can predict the degree of inbreeding for any proposed mating. These are used extensively by farmers breeding cattle, and other species, by artificial insemination (AI). However, no regulations exist to prevent inbreeding as AI operates in a free market and the farmer is free to purchase any semen he may choose. In addition, it is currently left to the farmer whether or not he will maintain records of matings used to ensure that his animals do not become too inbred.

37. Concerns exist in regard to potential welfare problems due to loss of genetic diversity, either nationally or at individual farm herd level. Whilst it is recognised that cloning by nuclear transfer may be used to introduce desirable genes rapidly into a herd, the potential of introducing deleterious genes equally rapidly must not be forgotten. Furthermore, any tendency to lose genetic diversity may make it difficult or even impossible to reverse the effect of such deleterious genes once recognised. Without some form of control, the narrowing down of the genetic pool could occur relatively quickly. This might result in an increased risk of genetic abnormalities, susceptibility to disease and other welfare consequences. We do not believe that control of these problems should be left to the industry but rather that statutory regulation is required.

Recommendation:

38. An effective system of control of cloning by nuclear transfer, or similar means, should be implemented to ensure that genetic diversity is maintained and other adverse effects prevented. Such control may need to be statutory and should ensure that proper breeding records of animals produced by such cloning are maintained for several generations.