Flight Speed Linked to Beef TendernessWednesday, Aug 1, 2001
Our Aussie mates have provided a bit of practical sensibility on genetic modification to leaven the
very divisive GE debate that has intensified since the release of the Royal Commission’s report
These good Aussie scientists have identified that indirect selection for beef tenderness of breeding
cattle can be undertaken by beef growers using the simple “flight speed” measurement.
This “flight speed” apparently is a scientifically established test which determines
the speed at which an animal exits the crush
It seems that the correlation between flight speed and tenderness in progeny has something to do with
muscle function which scientists do not yet understand, but it has a big effect - a 43 percent genetic
correlation – although the report did not confirm if faster means more tender beef, .which
would normallybe assumed
This simple but cunning application of scientific knowledge shows how far those Aussies are ahead of
us Kiwi’s in ensuring that they go about their beef genetic engineering in a subtle and inoffensive
manner thus avoiding any need for expensive Royal Commissions
But never the less, although this new technology is clearly being released for use in any old cattle
yard, and is not necessarily under strict scientific supervision there must be major ramifications
for producer’s marketer’s and consumer’s from the free release of this new technology.
Producers of the old tough “low speed” beefare being placed at a distinct disadvantage
of uncontrolled cross fertilization because of the quick and aggressive nature of “high speed”
bulls which will be way ahead of the “low speed’ bulls at mating time.
Those Aussie beef marketers who have up until now used the generic advertising slogan “clean green
- tough and dusty “ will spend moments changing to a new marketing strategy based on something
like “speed beef – tender like a roo”. Causing a dramatic drop in demand
for “slow beef – tough and dusty”.
All of which demonstrates how unleveled the level world of farm production and marketing remains. Particularly
if access to these new technologies is hindered by very strict but emotion based rules
put in place to ensure science develops in an orderly fashion and in accord with 'public' wishes.