AQHA Cloning Lawsuit One Step Closer To Trial

sllclonesA continuing lawsuit will determine if clones can be registered with the AQHA.A May 1 court-ordered mediation session in the cloning lawsuit involving the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and two Texas horsemen took place as scheduled, but it did not produce a settlement, court records state.

The United States District Northern District Court antitrust lawsuit filed by Jason Abraham, Canadian, Texas, and veterinarian Gregg Veneklasen, Amarillo, Texas, remains pending in U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson’s Amarillo, Texas, court with a June 24 “be ready for trial order.”

Nancy Stone, an Amarillo attorney representing Veneklasen and Abraham, did not comment on any specifics of the May 1 mediation session, but confirmed what both sides reported back to the court: “Parties were unable to reach a settlement.”

A phone call to an AQHA attorney has not yet been returned.

“I anticipate that the case will go to trial,” said Stone, adding that the trial could begin soon after the existing ready “make ready” date. “I believe if it doesn’t go to trial that week, it would go shortly thereafter. The docket there moves very quickly. I believe it will be set for late June or sometime in July,” Stone said.

Abraham and Venekalsen filed the antitrust lawsuit jointly in April 2012. It seeks to overturn 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 any 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 lawsuit alleges the AQHA rule illegally limits competition, putting owners of cloned horses and their offspring at an economic disadvantage. Since the AQHA does not register clones, it also does not allow for the registration of offspring of clones. The lawsuit claims clones produce foals that are not clones, and are actually identical to any foals born following any other form of conception.

“There is no genetic manipulation of the animal,” the lawsuit states. “No genes are added, taken away, or manipulated. A clone is a genetic twin of the original animal. The offspring of clones are not clones.”

Proposals to amend the cloning rule have been submitted and denied at every AQHA Convention for the past six years, including the March 2013 meeting in Houston, Texas. The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) has allowed clones to compete since 2009.

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