12 January 1996

Apply lab animal code to bio-tech

RULES similar to those which protect lab animals used for scientific tests should also govern the on-farm use of new biotechnology, such as multiple ovulation and embryo transfer.

That will be the message of Prof John Webster, University of Bristol, speaking at the Semex dairy conference next week.

He suggests such legislation is needed to protect not only the animals involved, but also the reputation of todays farmers.

"Along with the welfare implications of breeding, feeding and managing dairy cows for increased productivity, farmers must also consider the effects of applying new technologies designed to increase milk yield or the rate of genetic progress in their herds," he says.

He seeks legislation that applies a form of cost/benefit analysis to determine whether the cost to the animal can be justified in terms of any potential benefit to society. He believes the MOET procedure is justified in dairy cattle, but should not be permitted in sheep until a less severe technique can be developed than that currently based on laparoscopy.