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26 June 1996
The importation of embryos, rather than the live transportation of animals is a step in the right direction in helping New Zealand maintain its disease-free status, says Jim Edwards, MAF’s national manager, International Animal Trade, in a paper given at the Second Pan Pacific Veterinary Conference in Christchurch yesterday (Tuesday).
Dr Edwards told conference goers that the potential for disease transmission through embryo transfer is much less than the potential of transmission through the live animal or semen trade. He said an embryo maintained a relatively sterile environment, whereas a live animal is more susceptible to disease the older it is.
Importing embryos was also cheaper, he said, than moving live animals between countries, although with embryos, costs were incurred during collection and transplantation. Dr Edwards said the ability to exploit the benefits of importing embryos was relative to the availability of suitable recipient animals.
The Government quarantine agencies put in place measures to prevent the introduction of infectious and contagious diseases during embryo importation by employing risk analysis techniques during the development of import health standards. The analysis would identify the likelihood of a risk event occurring and its magnitude. A risk could come from: a disease in the exporting country or region and the health status of the farms and donor cows from which the embryos were collected; the use of accepted standards for handling and processing embryos by the embryo collection team; and the post collection surveillance of the donors and donor farms.
Dr Edwards said New Zealand had a ‘reasonable’ trade in goats, sheep, deer, and cattle embryos.
The veterinary conference is a joint venture between the New Zealand Veterinary Association and the Australian Veterinary Association and is being attended by more than 1150 veterinarians from around the world, and will provide vets with a week of opportunities to refresh old skills and learn new ones, exchange knowledge, and discuss issues.