| A total of 25
IETS CANDES Parent Committee members were present, representing 8
countries. Unfortunately, due to the severe ice storms that
occurred just before the start of the IETS annual conference, the CANDES
Research and Technology Subcommittees were not able to meet at their
scheduled time on 9 January but nine members were present to hold a joint
meeting of the Regulatory and Health and Safety Subcommittees on 10
January. Chairman Loskutoff explained that only the Health and
Safety Subcommittee had a working meeting in 2003 in order to formulate
action plans for assessing disease risks and biomaterial transport.
Chairman Loskutoff announced two changes to the CANDES Executive
Committee: Bill Swanson (CREW, Cincinnati Zoo) had asked to resign
of his duties as Co-Chairman of the Research Subcommittee. He will
be replaced with Monique Paris (Murdoch Research Institute, Victoria,
Australia). Furthermore, Amanda Pickard had asked to resign because
of a change in employment and her role of Secretary to the CANDES Parent
Committee will be replaced by Rebecca Spindler (Toronto Zoo,
Canada). The Subcommittee Co-Chairmen were then asked to present
summaries from their activities since January 2003.
Regulatory Subcommittee: Co-Chairmen Crichton and O'Brien reported on the progress of their Subcommittee to compile a country-by-country list of contacts and permit agencies and identifying the processing required for the import and export of biomaterials to and from different countries. Import/export information has been completed and is now available for several countries on the CANDES homepage on the IETS website.
Health & Safety Subcommittee: Co-Chairman Holt reported on their mid-year meeting held in November 2003 on formulating strategies and tools necessary for quantifying the risk of transmitting specific diseases via semen and other biomaterials from CANDES. The report/workbook resulting from this workshop has been completed and is now available on the CANDES homepage of the IETS website (see attached pdf file). A second workshop is in the process of being organized to fine-tune this workbook as well as to document the relative risks associated with moving live animals versus biomaterials in order to provide a more rationale basis to governmental regulatory officials for transporting biomaterials.
Research Subcommittee: Co-Chairman Krisher reported that the collection process was ongoing for standard operating procedures (or protocols) for embryo transfer and related technologies in CANDES. Currently there are 18 submissions in a 92 page Resource Manual available on the CANDES homepage of the IETS website. Different strategies for obtaining additional protocols were discussed including the drafting of a letter by Co-Chairman Monique Paris asking fellow scientists to contribute to the Resource Manual. Taxon leaders are needed for "Birds" and "Marine Mammals". The Subcommittee considered its future activities, once protocol collation was successfully underway. It concluded that some of its objectives will be to identify priority areas for research, based on areas where technology is lacking. It needs to consider whether this prioritisation should target technologies, taxa or species. It should also incorporate the priorities of the NGO bodies, e.g., IUCN, and tailor its activities to meet the needs of other organisations.
Technology Subcommittee: Neither Co-Chairmen Phil Damiani or Damien Paris were able to attend the CANDES meetings due to unforeseen circumstances. Co-Chairman Paris did conduct a survey of their members to prioritize which reproductive technologies should receive more attention and promotion for research and development. The results of this survey are provided as Appendix 1 of this report.
Position Statement on Cloning: A final draft of the IETS CANDES position statement on cloning was submitted to the IETS Board of Governors who approved it in December 2003 (see Appendix 2). This statement will be posted on the CANDES homepage on the IETS website in March 2004. Although all CANDES members had multiple opportunities to discuss and debate the statement over the past two years, there was still some criticism raised as to some of the wording used in the approved statement. Chairman Loskutoff informed the members present that because of the dynamic nature of this technology, we will make a point to review the current statement on an annual basis and, if necessary, will request that a revised statement be presented to the IETS Board of Governors for approval.
Future Meetings: The next working meeting of the IETS CANDES Parent Committee will be held on 12 November 2004 at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, USA just preceding the Third International Symposium on Assisted Reproductive Technology for the Conservation and Genetic Management of Wildlife. The program for this symposium has been completed and it will be posted on the CANDES homepage as soon as we receive confirmations from the invited speakers.
The Parent Committee on Companion Animals, Non-domestic and Endangered Species (CANDES) of the International Embryo Transfer Society (IETS), in its efforts to oversee the great diversity of taxa under its banner, recognizes that some species may serve as appropriate models for nuclear transfer or "cloning" research. Furthermore, such research could ultimately have broader application and benefit to other species under its purview (e.g., for conservation or therapeutic reasons). Therefore, the Committee supports, in principle, research and development of this technology. At the same time, the Committee cautions that the maintenance of genetic diversity is the underlying principle of long-term population management and species conservation; thus the practical application of nuclear transfer may be contraindicated for the vast majority of these species. Nevertheless, there may be certain exceptions where species known to be genetically compromised (e.g., highly inbred populations) may benefit from cloning technology developed in species with a history of cloning success (e.g., amphibians) or in closely related domestic counterparts (e.g., ruminants) or in other species where embryo technologies are advancing (e.g., primates and felids). Furthermore, because basic principles of reproduction are yet to be established for most CANDES, cloning research should not proceed at the expense of research directed towards understanding basic physiology. The continued development and application of assisted reproduction technologies (e.g. artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, embryo transfer and gamete/embryo cryopreservation) that are potentially more effective and thus have greater immediate application to species conservation, should be given higher priority than cloning research. Meanwhile, although there are major technical hurdles to overcome, the overall efficiency of cloning is advancing and researchers must remain vigilant to the possible future application of this technology to CANDES as an additional tool for the propagation or conservation of these animals. Thus, the Committee strongly encourages the organized collection and storage of biomaterials for use in future cloning efforts and stresses that exploration of cloning technology be conducted on the basis of sound scientific principles and with the ethical care and use of CANDES. Finally, and especially in the case of critically endangered or extinct species, the Committee urges that researchers be cognizant of dwindling global habitat issues and responsibly address the implications of their research for our overall commitment to species conservation and the preservation of biodiversity.