POSTED BY Andrew Clark on October 18, 2013

Advancements in the field of reproductive technology, in particular the science of cloning, have exploded in the 21st century.  With the development of new technology, comes the development of legal issues pertaining to these discoveries. On May 24, 2013, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Amarillo Division addressed an issue regarding cloning horses in the Abraham & Veneklasen Joint Venture v. American Quarter Horse Association case.

This case arose when the Plaintiffs, breeders of American Quarter Horses, were denied registry, in the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), for their cloned offspring. The AQHA is a non-profit association that is self-funded primarily by memberships, which totals 281,000 members. The Plaintiffs filed suit against the AQHA alleging Sherman Antitrust Act §1-2 violations. The Plaintiff’s case turned on AQHA Rule 227(a), which states:
Horses produced by any cloning process are not eligible for registration. Cloning is defined as any method by which the genetic material of an unfertilized egg or an embryo is removed and replaced by genetic material taken from another organism, added to/with genetic material from another organism or otherwise modified by any means in order to produce a live foal.

The district court granted an injunction forcing the AQHA to register cloned horses and their subsequent offspring. The court concluded Rule 227(a) did violate both Federal and State anti-trust laws stating that AQHA committee members “had an incentive to decrease competition by excluding elite clones” and “excluding clones deprives the marketplace of independent centers of decision making”.

Current laws have had to continually adapt to remain pertinent and effective with regards to developing technology. Here the court made the right decision regarding registration of cloned horses. The AQHA denying the registration of clones seems to have a self-serving motivation fronted by various concerns; such as, the impact of cloned horses on various competitions.  There are many aspects beyond genetics that make a horse successful in specific disciplines. Much like raising children, the environment and training methods used have more of an effect on the success of a horse, than the horse’s genetic makeup. Just because a horse is genetic clone of another does not mean that it will behave like its cloned relative or be as successful as its clone. Although this case does not answer all the legal questions regarding cloning technology, it lays a foundation for applying existing law to future these legal problems.

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