March 11, 2009 -- On March 9, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) Board of Directors voted that action on a member proposal to approve the registration of foals produced by cloning be postponed until the 2010 AQHA Annual Convention. In the interim, the committee recommended the appointment of a task force to continue to seek information and input from informed sources regarding cloning and to conduct further study of, among other things, parentage verification issues, the implications of cloning on the registration process, sentiment of the general membership, the impact of cloning with respect to genetic diseases, and to continue the effort to educate the general membership regarding cloning and its potential effect on the breed, the Association and its members.
Within the past couple of years, commercial cloning of a number of horses, including American Quarter Horses, has been well publicized. However, under Rule 227(a) of the AQHA Official Handbook, a rule that became effective in 2004, American Quarter Horses produced by any cloning process are not eligible for registration.
The AQHA Stud Book and Registration Committee first considered a proposed change to Rule 227(a) at the 2008 AQHA Convention. The proposed change would allow a live foal produced via a particular type of cloning to be registered if its DNA matches that of a registered American Quarter Horse. At that time, the SBRC recommended that any decision regarding the proposed change be postponed pending further study to be undertaken at the direction of the committee.
A proposed change to Rule 227(a) was again on the SBRC agenda at this year's convention.
In continuing to educate members on cloning, AQHA sponsored a cloning forum on March 6 in San Antonio, Texas. More than 400 AQHA members attended the forum, while numerous members watched it via webcast on www.aqha.com. Members heard from Katrin Hinrichs, a veterinarian involved in equine cloning at Texas A&M University; Sharon Spier, an epidemiologist at the University of California-Davis; George Seidel, a professor specializing in biomedical sciences at Colorado State University; and Blake Russell of ViaGen, a commercial equine cloning company.
Following the experts' presentations, a number of AQHA members were given time to ask the panelists questions and offer comments.