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Biotech The Courts

Lawsuit Over Quarter Horse's Clone May Redefine Animal Breeding 172

schwit1 sends this report from the LA Times: "Lynx Melody Too, a clone of a renowned quarter horse, is at the center of a lawsuit that could change the world of animal breeding and competition. Texas horse breeder Jason Abraham and veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen sued the American Quarter Horse Assn., claiming that Lynx Melody Too should be allowed to register as an official quarter horse. A Texas jury decided in their favor in 2013, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling in January, saying there was 'insufficient' evidence of wrongdoing by the association.

The suit is among the first to deal with the status of clones in breeding and competition, and its outcome could impact a number of fields, including thoroughbred horse racing and dog breeding. The quarter horse association is adamant that clones and their offspring have no place in its registry. "It's what AQHA was founded on — tracking and preserving the pedigrees of these American quarter horses," said Tom Persechino, executive director of marketing for the association. "When a person buys an American quarter horse, they want to know that my quarter horse has the blood of these horses running through it, not copies of it."
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Lawsuit Over Quarter Horse's Clone May Redefine Animal Breeding

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @10:34AM (#49261319) Journal
    "they want to know that my quarter horse has the blood of these horses running through it, not copies of it"

    Unless American quarter horses are sinister equine vampires of some kind, I'm fairly sure that no quarter horse has the blood of any other quarter horse, let alone multiple quarter horses, running through it. That's just not this 'heredity' stuff works.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In this case wouldn't the clone be more valuable, since it actually has the blood of an other quarter horse running through it?

      • by khchung ( 462899 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @10:49AM (#49261409) Journal

        In this case wouldn't the clone be more valuable, since it actually has the blood of an other quarter horse running through it?

        Obviously, logical thinking is unacceptable when one's income is threatened by it.

        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @11:27AM (#49261585)

          Obviously, logical thinking is unacceptable when one's income is threatened by it.

          Well, that is the real issue. Cloning could totally disrupt horse breeding. Why bother with lots of trial and error, when you can just clone a hundred copies of Secretariat? Barriers to entry would be far lower, stud fees would disappear, and horse racing attendance may drop from lack of interest in watching identical horses compete. For thoroughbreds, not only is cloning banned, but they don't even allow artificial insemination or embryo transfer. The whole industry is predicated on artificial scarcity.

          • by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @11:45AM (#49261673)

            Obviously, logical thinking is unacceptable when one's income is threatened by it.

            Well, that is the real issue. Cloning could totally disrupt horse breeding. Why bother with lots of trial and error, when you can just clone a hundred copies of Secretariat? Barriers to entry would be far lower, stud fees would disappear, and horse racing attendance may drop from lack of interest in watching identical horses compete. For thoroughbreds, not only is cloning banned, but they don't even allow artificial insemination or embryo transfer. The whole industry is predicated on artificial scarcity.

            But then, you could have an entirely different race, the IROC of horse-racing; where the only difference was (supposedly) the skill of the Jockeys and the horses' "crews"...

          • by Anonymous Coward

            These clones are hardly 'identical' though, are they? Regardless of having the same DNA, they have been brought to term and born from different mothers providing different nutrients at different levels and experiencing different levels of stress and other environmental conditions, all of which can affect the unborn foetus. Dolly the Sheep wasn't exactly the same as her genetic twin, and some of these Secretariat clones will probably run no faster than any other horse.

          • by Xest ( 935314 )

            I'm not sure that's really true, cloning the best horse at the time doesn't preclude the possibility of a breeder breeding an even better horse for racing and so forth.

            Then of course there's disease vulnerability, there's every possibility a disease could wipe out all the clones, whilst allowing many of the bred ones to survive.

            Once you've discovered a horse is awesome in a race or whatever, it's already an adult, so sure you can clone it at that point you know it's awesome, but you still have to wait for t

    • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @10:45AM (#49261387)

      Perhaps some people worship animal pedigrees because it's no longer socially acceptable to do it with humans...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Rest assured, the people who worship animal pedigrees DO worship human pedigrees as well, no matter how retarded the idea is.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Not socially acceptable? The Super Rich do it all the time. Go ahead and ask one of the Kennedy's if they are OK with their daughters marrying the servants.

        Just because the poor people cant do it, does not mean it's not wildly popular and has been for a very long time. That was the basis behind all the outrage when Charles, Prince of Wales married not only a commoner but an AMERICAN commoner...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      They are loaded with the "blood" of various champion animals through recorded provenance. They just don't want to allow clones into the competition, or for people to claim they are selling the genes of a horse which won, which didn't.

      It's a breeding competition, not a cloning competition.

      • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

        They are loaded with the "blood" of various champion animals through recorded provenance.

        If the horse is a clone, then doesn't it have the provenance of horse whose clone it is?

        On the other hand does the birth mare contribute biological material to the fetus, thus meaning that there can be no such thing as a true clone?

        On the third hand, I have no I idea if these breeding associations accept In vitro fertilization and surrogacy as a part of their breeding programs? - if they do, that would invalidate my second point.

        Standard disclaimer: IANAGNAHB - I am not a geneticist, nor a horse breeder

        • On the other hand does the birth mare contribute biological material to the fetus, thus meaning that there can be no such thing as a true clone?

          If you are cloning a mare, couldn't the birth mare and the horse being cloned be the same animal? In that case, even the mitochondrial DNA would be identical.

          • Cloning introduces hundreds of mutations. Many clones die because of those mutations so it is likely that non fatal mutations would affect performance as well.

          • The mitochondria doesn't come from the host of gestation, it comes from the donor of the egg, unless you do a 3 way thing, or until they find a way to cause a single cell to convert to a zygote.
            • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
              So you'll want to test a number of prospective egg donors for the most/best mitochondria, and use that. So there'll still be some "breeding" in cloning.

              And yes, we are at the point where males are no longer "required" for reproducing. But not to the point where women aren't required. For all larger mammalian species I'm aware of.

              Nut the thoroughbred rules don't allow cloning, or "other" artificial methods. Some of this is to stop some early practices like banking lots of sperm, then turn him into a ge
        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Actually, NO. Look up the history of Dolly, the sheep. Things aren't that simple.

          OTOH, this isn't what they are arguing about.

      • That would probably be the fastest way to shut down this idiotic legal threat -- "This is a breeding competition, not a cloning competition. That set of genes in a horse won in the past. Congratulations, good job, breeder! Let's see what the next generation product of these breeders yields.

        "We just assumed a base historical background fact, no need to define it further because it's so obvious, of breeding horses as given, and no more foresaw cloning than a Star Trek teleporter creating a duplicate that s

        • "We just assumed a base historical background fact, no need to define it further because it's so obvious, of breeding horses as given, and no more foresaw cloning than a Star Trek teleporter creating a duplicate that someone might want to enter."

          Spock Must Die!

          Oh, wait...

        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          That wouldn't quite work since it would still allow for breeding the clone of a champion (there goes exclusivity).

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As Oz Peter says, the clone has exactly the same blood running through it as the horse it was cloned from, so if the clone isn't acceptable because of whose blood it has descended from, then the original isn't acceptable either.

        The *argument* made in the summary is summarily, irrecoverably, wrong.

        If there is another argument that doesn't reside on firmer ground, then it should have been made, but the one made there must be the best one they've got, else they'd've used that instead, and this argument is wron

    • I don't think 'weak, irrational' or 'nonsense' really captures the flavor of the statement, so if you'll please allow me to indulge myself, I'll take a stab at it:

      How about: 'Irrational'?

      Unless the genetic sciences have reached a point where we're able to build the genetic code one piece at a time for an organism the size of a horse, and considering that this is a 'clone' we're talking about (i.e., a perfect copy of a previous, 'natural-born' horse), then the animal in question is, indeed 'a quarter-hors
      • by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @12:40PM (#49261969) Homepage Journal

        "(i.e., a perfect copy of a previous, 'natural-born' horse)" - it's not that. Not at all. [utah.edu] Even if the horse lives, and seems to have a healthy life, and breeds...its children could have problems. Or maybe the clone will just be fine for 5 years, and suddenly have problems.

        Your dna /ages/ in a sense. Unless you're cloning an infant, there are differences...and even then really, since even an infant has lost telomeres, and a variety of other things. If you cloned a blastocyst, it would probably be ok. Anything after that...problems occur, and we don't yet fully know why. More importantly, we don't know how to test for the potential problems, since we don't have a complete picture of what causes them. It is correct to exclude clones, in as much as it can be correct to worry about breed purity in the first place. You do understand that fields such as epigenetics and cloning in general are pretty much in their own infancy right now, right?

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Everything you say is true, and I'm rather certain that it has little to do with the reason for the complaint. (After all, it would just mean that the competition to the standard breeders was weaker. But it *would* allow the increase in the numbers of competitors...perhaps.)

          • by dAzED1 ( 33635 )
            It has *everything* to do with the complaint. They certify a breed. The clone is *not* a perfect equivalent, and will have problems that the parents did not impart, and that the original did not have. The primary (secondary, and tertiary) point of having a certified bloodline is to be able to have certainty of particular traits, and consistency. A clone won't have that - they'll have new, unique problems. Or maybe they'll be ok, but their children will have problems. Allowing them in as equal status *
    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @11:40AM (#49261637)

      As we saw with Dolly the Sheep, a clone is not an exact copy of an animal. It may contain nearly all the DNA information but first this DNA may be damaged (if nothing else, shortened telomers) and second it may not contain all the exact matrilineal content. This include both midocondral DNA as well as an epigenetic controls the mother's cell line places on its DNA. It is possible someone could have take those into account and made the best possible approximation to those. But it also possible that the crucial developmental characteristics of a quarter horse are in those missing elements.

      Thus at a minimum the Quarter horse association could reasonably say that unless the donor cell line is from a quarter horse, it is not a quarter horse. It would also be someone reasonable to say that even with that precaution the shortened telomers mean this is a genetically damaged quarter horse and they want to exclude it from breeding with genetically healthy quarter horses.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 15, 2015 @10:34AM (#49261321)

    If they can clone 1/4 horse today, it won't be long until they can clone an entire horse.

    • And I can't get 4 quarter horses to run as fast as a whole one, no matter how much duct tape I use.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If he doesn't like it, he can set up his own "2/8 Horse" association and certify which horses are officially "2/8 Horses".

  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @10:36AM (#49261333)

    "When a person buys an American quarter horse, they want to know that my quarter horse has the blood of these horses running through it, not copies of it."

    Well, ick. Blood from horses that lived fifty or a hundred years ago must be getting seriously stinky by now.

    In other news, this spokesman appears to be willfully ignorant of the most rudimentary concepts of biology. I guess "understanding" would ruin the nobility and romance of breeding...

  • by knightghost ( 861069 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @10:46AM (#49261397)

    This is no different than the music and movie industry - an archaic business segment eliminated through innovation that allows better quality for 1/10th the price.

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @11:37AM (#49261625)

      Uh, yeah. Maybe someone should enter an F1 car in a horse race and call it 'innovation'. Breeding is part of the competition. Cloning is not 'innovation', it is cheating.

      • Cloning replaces breeding, therefore breeding becomes irrelevant. "Cheating" that you mention is 100% opinion. And we did replace those roman chariot races with F1 cars, right?

        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by bws111 ( 1216812 )

          Please tell me you are just trolling. Breeding is an integral part of the sport. You can't make it irrelevant and have the same sport, and you have in no way explained how that us better.

          Anyway, if you think removing expensive breeding makes the sport better I have the ideal form of horse racing for you. It is so innovative it will make your head spin. It not only removes the archaic and expensive breeding, but also the archaic and expensive feeding, boarding, training, jockeys, and track. Instead, i

          • by The Rizz ( 1319 )

            Please tell me you are just trolling. Breeding is an integral part of the sport. You can't make it irrelevant and have the same sport, and you have in no way explained how that us better.

            Please tell me you are just trolling. You can't just say breeding is an integral part of the sport, and you have in no way explained why it is or should be, or how it is better. Why can't you make it irrelevant and have the same sport?

    • This is no different than the music and movie industry - an archaic business segment eliminated through innovation that allows better quality for 1/10th the price.

      Eliminated?

      "Cinderella" cost $95 million to produce and grossed $132 million dollars world-wide in its opening weekend.

      It is not at all unlikely that Disney could see a billion dollar return on its investment over the life of the film's theatrical run, home video sales, live stage productions, and so on.

      "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Big Hero 6" performed superbly for Disney in their theatrical adaptation ---and have impeccable geek cred, as does "Wreck-It Ralph."

      The geek has spent his entire life whini

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @10:47AM (#49261403)
    n/t
  • Imagine the future NBA if it permitted clones. Every team would be fielding a dream team with clones of the same player on multiple teams.
  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @10:50AM (#49261417) Homepage
    It completely destroys their monopoly. They basically just discovered how to factory produce diamonds, they have to make sure they are never worth as much or their entire organisation is doomed.
    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      Who is they, and what monopoly do they supposedly hold? Horse breeding and racing is a competition, and like all competitions there are rules.

  • Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wisnoskij ( 1206448 )
    Cloning would completely destroy the sport. The whole fcking point is the slow and laborious process of breeding the prefect horse. Every one unique. It is not about stealing a clipping of the winner horses hair and creating a copy, or generically engineering an even better race horse. Considering that both the sports and the breeding would be destroyed by the ability to just create whatever you want in the lab, how else are they to respond?
    • by kenj123 ( 658721 )
      I agree completely. in a few years it will be possible to custom build DNA or 3d print a new horse and then what. Once you open the barn door...... ummm I'm sure there is some old country saying to cover this. At this point breeding a raising horses is a hobby, not an economic venture. I'd like to see places where tradition wins over whatever works. Like somebody said earlier that If you don't like it, start your own registry.
      • "Raising horses is a hobby, not an economic venture."

        Might want to check up on your information. I know of few to NONE of the breeders out there that just do it because they can. There's a *lot* of money tied up in horse racing. Hence all the hubbub.

        • by kenj123 ( 658721 )
          I thought of that counter argument just as posted, I should have stuck to what the OP said, its a sport, not a hobby. Its also not a race to the bottom, anything goes, just make it cheaper and faster type of economic venture, if it was it would morph into something completely unrecognizable and not fun anymore. you don't have to cap the word 'NONE', I can read .
        • It is an economic venture in exactly the same way as any other gambling entertainment industry is an economic venture.

          Horse racing is supported by the people who bet on the race, plus whatever revenue that rich hobbyists (and their quite a few) choose to pump into it.

          Sure, for the people raising horses to supply the racing industry with, it is a job or a business, as their position dictates.

    • Nonsense, first to cross the finish line is that point.

      You're very confused

  • by eric31415927 ( 861917 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @10:57AM (#49261453)

    At the moment, natural-born animals have fewer complications throughout their lives.
    Keeping track of pedigrees is arguably more important now that clones are starting to show up.
    Horses are expensive; who wants to lay out $10K (or more) without some assurance that your horse will live a heathly life.

    See problems with animal cloning:
    http://learn.genetics.utah.edu... [utah.edu]

    • Animals from a particular pedigree may be "natural-born", but they are oftentimes unnaturally selected, in many cases without regard for the long-term health of the animal or its offspring. They're bred for certain traits that make them desirable, whether that be an ability to run fast, a thick and luxurious coat, or the way that their ears lay, but the end result of artificially selecting them based on those traits can mean that deleterious traits are passed along as well, rather than being culled through

  • by Johnny Loves Linux ( 1147635 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @11:01AM (#49261475)

    said Tom Persechino, executive director of marketing for the association. "When a person buys an American quarter horse, they want to know that my quarter horse has the blood of these horses running through it, not copies of it."

    Does Mr. Persechino not understand what the word "copy" means? Perhaps he's never met twins?

    It sounds a lot like the diamond industry where they finally perfected an industrial means of making diamonds at a much lower price than the ones that De Beers charge for their "precious" diamonds. So what does the "precious" diamond industry do? They claim that manufactured diamonds aren't as "precious" as the ones they dig out of the ground. No shit Sherlock! The price is set by the supply, but now the supply is not so small now is it? And as for the diamonds? I don't think they "care" whether they're made in some deep volcanic process or in an industrial plant. They're still... DIAMONDS!

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )

      Does Mr. Persechino not understand what the word "copy" means? Perhaps he's never met twins?

      Perhaps he understands that the "copy" you get from cloning is not a perfect copy, but a degraded version of the original. There's good reason to complain if clones are traded as if they were originals.

    • Synthetic ruby and sapphire are even better examples. They are dissed because they are flawless and inexpensive.

    • Actually the supply of diamonds haven't been small in a long time - if DeBeers put its stockpiles on the market diamonds would just be shiny gravel. Only the number on the market has been kept artificially suppressed by their global near-monopoly and some (rumored) underhanded business practices - I remember reading an article many years ago about the first fellows growing flawless synthetic diamonds (the kind identifiable as "fakes" only by the fact that they're far too perfect to be natural), and they we

    • by The Rizz ( 1319 )

      I don't think they "care" whether they're made in some deep volcanic process or in an industrial plant. They're still... DIAMONDS!

      Frankly, I'd go out of my way to NOT buy "real" diamonds but find the manufactured ones, instead. I'll choose the ones not supporting murder, borderline slave labor, and multinational anti-competitive practices and price fixing.

  • In Canada the hypermale Starbuck clone [wikipedia.org] was create from Starbuck the more prolific semen donor in history, the semen of the clone was illegal in Canada (article in french) [ciaq.com] the funny part hs semens is legal in USA.

    By the way the Starbuck name was use as a title of a Canadian film [wikipedia.org] that was remake in the USA under the name of Delivery Man [wikipedia.org] . think of that the next time you put milk in your coffee.

  • by SQL Error ( 16383 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @11:10AM (#49261515)

    Any sufficiently profound stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davmoo ( 63521 ) on Sunday March 15, 2015 @11:19AM (#49261553)

    Yes, the American Quarter Horse Association is woefully ignorant of science and biology here. But none of that matters. The bottom line is the association is a private, non-governmental organization, and provided they are following federal law and state law where they are headquartered, they should have the right to admit or bar any horse they want. If they decide to bar white horses because its Tuesday, that's their privilege.

    • "they should have the right to admit or bar any horse they want"

      But they also have an obligation to adhere to the rules they already established in the contractual relations with its members and its charter.

      The very question at hand is whether AQHA actually has a rule that forbids cloned horses, and thus it becomes a matter of contract law.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      That depends on where you draw the line. Some laws will still apply, even if it is about a private organisation, a private property or a contract between two people.

      Just because it is private does not mean everything is allowed.

      This lawsuit could decide if this is crossing the line or not.

  • 1. As long as the clone is healthy and able to live as long a life as the original without complications from the cloning, it ought not to be a problem. I haven't been following the state of the art with cloning, so I'm not sure if we can make a clone able to survive as well as the original yet. I'd be surprised if this task is insurmountable. Maybe in a couple hundred years you just go to the DNA bank and 3D print a new horse from its DNA.

    2. There's an element of "follow the money" here. Breeding in thos

    • by bws111 ( 1216812 )

      There is no element of follow the money. The one and only reason to register a horse with A Q&A is to race it. There are many forms of competition that set specific rules on the competitors and this is no different.

  • Scientifically, I agree the clone should qualify.

    But how is this an issue for the courts? Why should there be a legal definition of a certified quarter horse?

    I just think if a dorky organization wants to certify horses that exclude clones, they should be able to until such time as it comes becomes bankrupt.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      Scientifically, I agree the clone should qualify.

      Sure. Let's look at the issue. First, cloning is not perfect. That's one scientific strike against.

      Second, if we're going with scientific reasons for voiding rules of horse racing, why have horse races at all? Surely, it'd be simpler and vastly more efficient use of resources just to randomly assign a winner to any such contest and just get rid of horses and racing altogether.

      As I see it, the point of horse racing is as a ritualistic hobby based on the ancient traditions of animal husbandy and breedin

      • Such idealistic rubbish. The point of horse racing is to be first across the finish line. There is huge money in winning. People squabble about what manner and condition of animals should be allowed to compete, but that's of less than secondary importance. Once in a while identical racehorse twins were born, and those have sometimes been champions in modern times, so the ancients may have raced clones..

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          The point of horse racing is to be first across the finish line.

          Nope. That's in error right there.

          There is huge money in winning.

          Let's take a look [aqha.com]: There are 13 pages of about 100 horses each who has earned more than $500,000. That's decent money, but not the "huge money" that you claim. The peak is almost $2.8 million for a six year old stallion (Ochoa, still alive). Sounds respectable except that his sire, Tres Seis [stallionesearch.com] commands $6,800 in siring fees, despite being 16 years old. He also only raced for three years. So three years of racing and 13 years of siring fees. Think about it.

          That's the catch.

          • Nope. That's in error right there.

            you blather without a reason

            Then you prattle on about winnings. Here's a wee little hint for your naive world view, the amount of money bet off-track and off-record exceeds your little winnings numbers by at least a factor of one hundred to one.

  • ... so it's their rules.

    We're done here.

  • Horse racing is all about genetic and breeding differences. The whole industry is predicated on unique horses that provides artificial scarcity. Horse race gambling is entire predicated on the chance that an unknown will be bred with enough genetic difference that allows it to be a better athlete.

    While it's true that there isn't a huge difference between genetically created clones and breeding (genetic manipulation either way, breeding is just more random), the fact that cloning can lead to multiple copie

  • They're quite right not to allow some shimmy shammy clone to register on the merits of it's DNA, just look at what happened with the Storm Trooper fiasco. They took one incredible bounty hunter, with mad skills and fantastic aim - and churned out millions of copies that couldn't hit the side of the huge desert crawling robot factory. They also had no appreciable hand to hand skills or the same muscle tone.

  • Up until now if someone had an elite horse there was a limited amount of breeding it could do but that limit was still a huge number of horses. Thus most of the racing elite could get a taste of that DNA on their ranch. This kept out the riff-raff but still allowed the fairly rich to play. But with full on Cloning this will leave all but the richest unable to pay for this. For most of the horses that result from breeding a great horse just aren't champions.

    But even worse is that if a real uber-champion c
  • that as a clone, the horse will of course be a soulless tool of Satan, existing only to usher in the era of the Antichrist.
    • A Pony is a tiny horse, but a Clony is a tiny horse and an abomination. The four horsemen of the apocalypse may yet arrive on four genetically identical steeds.

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