Who owns the Wagyu?

Wagyu breeders concerned about DNA data ownership


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The intellectual property rights of Wagyu breeders entering into DNA testing was a topical issue at this year’s annual general meeting held in Gatton this week.

The intellectual property rights of Wagyu breeders entering into DNA testing was a topical issue at this year’s annual general meeting held in Gatton this week.

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AWA’s technical services manager Carl Teseling says concerns were raised about intellectual property rights of Wagyu breeders entering into DNA cattle testing during the breed society's AGM at Gatton this week.

AWA’s technical services manager Carl Teseling says concerns were raised about intellectual property rights of Wagyu breeders entering into DNA cattle testing during the breed society's AGM at Gatton this week.

Some Wagyu producers attending the Australian Wagyu Association’s AGM, including well-known Australian Wagyu breeder David Blackmore from Victoria, voiced their concerns about ownership of DNA testing results.

The concern from Wagyu breeders comes as the Australian Wagyu Association endeavours to gain perpetual access rights from all members to all Australian Wagyu DNA test results.

AWA’s technical services manager Carl Teseling said DNA data ownership is an area of concern for some Wagyu members.

“I think we need to go back to the basics and say ‘why do we need this’ because the core of our business is ensuring our pedigrees are correct,” Mr Teseling said.

“The challenge for our Wagyu association is having to go back later and do any testing on specific samples and with no guaranteed access we can’t verify anything.”

AWA said an estimated 95 per cent of Wagyu DNA test results were already perpetually accessible by the breed society.

“Whenever the Australian Wagyu Association pays the invoice for a DNA test, on behalf of our member to the science lab conducting the tests, the lab sees AWA as the one who paid for the genotyping and allows access (not ownership) to the DNA test results,” Mr Teseling said.

“It’s only a small number of DNA samples not done through the association where we don’t have the necessary access to do our job properly.”

AWA councillors also cited the importance of having perpetual access to Wagyu animal’s DNA test results in the event a laboratory company who conduct the DNA testing goes into receivership.

“The AWA will potentially be able to gain control and access to the DNA data instead of it going to the business receivers,” AWA councillor Lorna Tomkinson said.  

Mr Teseling said the main point to understand is a single DNA sample test result isn’t telling the AWA much information.

“The real value of this whole package is having the collective DNA from high performance animals and that’s the main driver for Wagyu at present running these multi-million dollar projects to collect data,” he said.

“DNA testing will help us understand the genetic potential of an animal earlier in life including marbling and growth.”

Previously, the AWA stored large amounts of segmented data on registered Australian Wagyu cattle.

“In the last two years we’ve had a situation where all the data is combined back into AWA's database and we make sure we link the registered animal in our system back to the DNA data,” Mr Teseling said.

“In the past it wasn’t done very efficiently and now it’s linked correctly in our system.

“The whole picture is pulled together and we now have a clear view of each registered Wagyu animal in our database.”

The story Who owns the Wagyu? first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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