by RMHP Staff
A decision at last month's American Quarter Horse Convention refusing to register quarter horses that are the result of cloning, as well as their offspring, has led to a federal antitrust suit against the American Quarter Horse Association.
Two owners of cloned quarter horses, Jason Abraham and Veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen, claim that the AQHA's Rule 227 stating "horses produced by any cloning process are not eligible for registration" violates Antitrust Laws. The suit states the association's enforcement of the rule "is an abuse of the Defendant's monopoly in the market for high quality registered Quarter Horses, has an adverse effect on competition, and is without reasonable business justification."
According to the Plaintiffs, somatic cell nuclear transfer or cloning is the only assisted reproductive technique that can minimize or eliminate genetic disease. At least nine equine diseases have been linked to genetic mutations, including HYPP (a muscle disorder that can cause paralysis) and HERDA (a debilitating condition where the horse can literally shed its skin) , which are known to plague quarter horses. "These two diseases, HYPP and HERDA, are examples of "Popular Sire Effect" (or Popular Stud / Sire Syndrome) which occurs when an animal with desirable attributes is bred repeatedly. This can cause unknown undesirable genetic traits in the stud to spread rapidly within the gene pool. It can also reduce genetic diversity by the exclusion of other males." The plaintiffs' state somatic cell nuclear transfer is "the best tool available to deal with popular sire syndrome."
The suit notes the AQHA has previously accepted new technologies such as artificial insemination and the registration of multiple offspring in a single year through embryo transplants.
The suit mentions that the then existing members of the Executive Committee were in favor of the proposed rule change, but last month an influential breeder and past president of the AQHA reportedly objected.
"Through the use of intimidating remarks and references to the immorality of cloning as a reproductive tool, he threatened that "AQHA will allow cloning over my dead body," all the while making further references to the anti competitive affect of AQHA refusing to register clones and the offspring of clones. Such statements included that he did not want "six of them" around. Following this tirade, he moved to take no action on the proposed rule change and the debate was over.