August 14, 2013
Dear Angus Breeders,
Today, the Board of Directors voted unanimously to recognize Developmental Duplication (DD) as a genetic condition, inherited as a simple recessive. The Board also unanimously adopted a policy relating to the registration status of current and future animals determined to carry this mutation. This newly-adopted policy does not require or mandate the testing of potential carriers as a precondition of continued or prospective registration. Rather, the policy assumes that members will follow sound breeding decisions and make strategic use of DNA testing in dealing with this genetic condition. Because this policy represents an evolution in the Association's approach to genetic conditions generally and, in some respects, a departure from those policies first formulated in the fall of 2008 and the winter of 2009, the Board asked that I share some of its thinking with you on the subject.
With the onset of DD, it became clear that the discovery of genetic conditions will be a part of the future for all breeds of cattle. This Association's early "DNA era" began in 2008 with the development of policies related to first AM and then NH. Those policies were based on the perception that each represented catastrophic, once-in-a-lifetime events. Both conditions were lethal. These early policies were premised on the good faith belief that the best way to eliminate the condition and, at the same time, protect the interests of our commercial customers, was to impose some form of testing as a precondition for registration. This mandatory testing approach has undoubtedly resulted in a measurable decrease in the frequency of AM, NH, and CA, but has come with a significant price tag for the membership.
As the article authored by Jonathan Beever, Ph.D of the University of Illinois that was posted on our website on August 12, 2013 makes clear, the discovery of DD appears to present another condition similar in scope to AM, NH and CA. Leading geneticists in the bovine academic community have increasingly observed that all breeds have hundreds of mutation in their genome and that an Association's approach to genetic conditions should be adapted to reflect the likelihood – indeed, the certainty – that the discovery of such conditions will continue in the future and at a pace accelerated by new scientific tools available at every turn.
There are alternatives to mandatory testing and, over the past five years, our members have shown a willingness to embrace them. These include a better understanding and acceptance of the ability to manage around a known genetic condition by avoidance of breeding carrier to carrier and by the use of voluntary, strategic DNA testing. Equally important, our commercial breeders also understand and embrace these management principals.
The Board has considered this condition, the best interests of the breed and the membership, the state of where the science of genetics is moving with respect to the early detection of genetic conditions and our members' and their customers’ ability to manage such conditions. Based on its review of these factors, undertaken over an abbreviated period given the timing of the issue, the Board has adopted the attached policy.
Click here to view the policy.
The Board thanks you for your patience over the past week.
American Angus Association