Current Perspective

Q. Currently several companies are marketing DNA tests for use in selection.  What questions do you have regarding these tools; and who do you think should provide the answers to these questions?

“Validation” is a term frequently used in association with DNA selection tools.  Validation is the independent confirmation or rejection of a DNA test.  Validation attempts to answer the question: “Does the test work as claimed?”  In most applications this means that the scientists conducting the validation studies have no vested interest in the DNA test under consideration and that the animal populations used are different from the populations used to develop the test.  The animal populations needed to conduct validation studies for an ever-increasing number of DNA tests will require tremendous capital investment.
Q. How important do you think validation is to the use of DNA selection tools?
Q. Do you think public research institutions should have an ongoing role in validating new DNA tests?

For traits which have EPD available, the genetic information provided by DNA tests is NOT independent of the information provided by EPD.  The information overlaps, but we do not know by how much.  In the near future, we anticipate that statistical methods will be available to combine DNA test information with pedigree and phenotypic information in the computation of EPD and their associated accuracies.
Q. How important do you think having a single measure of genetic merit based on all sources of information (i.e., EPD based on DNA, pedigree, and phenotypic information) will be to the genetic improvement of US beef cattle?

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A Dynamic Future

Q. The beef industry as experienced rapid and substantial change in the past decade.  As we look towards the future, what changes in production and marketing might have large effects on selection in beef cattle?

The beef industry is becoming more integrated.  Currently, this integration is not in the same forms as seen in the poultry and swine industries; yet, alliances and networks are using business linkages to reduce production expenses, add value, and exploit market niches.  The value of information is increasing.
Q. How might future changes in the beef industry affect the sharing of information; particularly as it applies to information used to predict genetic merit?

Q. What new developments in genetic technology might have major impacts on:

  1. How animals are tested?
  2. How data is stored or shared?
  3. How animals are produced?

Currently, breed associations have major responsibilities related to the collection and storage of pedigree and phenotypic information, and in the computation and communication of EPD.
Q. What changes should be anticipated in the function of breed associations related to DNA tests, selection, and genetic improvement?

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Challenges

Q. What risks do you see for individual cow-calf producers in the wise and profitable application of DNA tests?

Q. With regard to the application of DNA tests in selection, what challenges do see ahead for:

  1. BIF?
  2. Breed Associations?
  3. Public research institutions (i.e., Land Grant Universities and USDA-ARS)?
  4. Genomic Companies?
  5. Seedstock breeders?
  6. Cow-calf producers?
  7. AI companies (Bull Studs)?

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