Embryo transfer should not require veterinary license
Official statement from the American Society of Animal Science Board of Directors
June 15, 2012 - The American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) believes embryo transfer in animals should not be defined solely as a veterinary procedure. Both veterinarians and specialized animal scientists have the knowledge and resources to perform safe and effective embryo transfers.
Embryo transfer is a procedure where embryos are recovered from a donor animal and a single embryo is transferred into the uterus of a recipient animal. This increases the number of offspring a genetically important donor animal can produce. Embryo transfer is a technique, like artificial insemination, that is not based on a medical diagnosis.
“Almost everything in this procedure has been developed by reproductive physiologists who are not veterinarians,” said Cliff Lamb, PhD, assistant director of animal science programs and professor at the University of Florida’s North Florida Research and Education Center.
Lamb said animal science students can work through Masters and PhD programs to receive the formal training and hands-on experience necessary to perform embryo transfer.
“There are a lot of non-veterinarians who are very proficient in it,” Lamb said.
In a commercial setting, embryo transfer does require prescription pharmaceuticals purchased by a veterinarian. Greg Lewis, PhD, a research leader at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Dubois, ID, said animal scientists can work with veterinarians to develop a “practitioner/clinician” relationship and use these pharmaceuticals during embryo transfers.
Currently, whether animal scientists are allowed to perform embryo transfer varies by state. According to Lamb, animal scientists trained in embryo transfer can fill a void at U.S. farms.
“They are struggling to identify enough veterinarians who can come in,” Lamb said.
“All of this comes down to understanding the animals and animal care and use,” Lewis said. “I don’t know why it cannot be a veterinarian or an animal scientist.”
ASAS continues to support strong relationships between animal producers and veterinarians. ASAS supports compliance with veterinary practice acts.
Greg Lewis, PhD
USDA Agricultural Research Service
Cliff Lamb, PhD
University of Florida, North Florida Research and Education Center
Meghan Wulster-Radcliffe, PhD
CEO, American Society of Animal Science