In light of the revelation that Japanese wagyu beef cattle sperm and fertilized eggs have been brought to China, nearly 30 percent of the approximately 1,600 domestic operators that collect and manage genetic resources from livestock for sale — known as livestock artificial insemination facilities — nationwide have either suspended or closed their businesses, an agriculture ministry survey shows.
The survey has brought to the fore the fact that prefectural governments, which give authorization to set up such facilities, cannot appropriately oversee operators.
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry conducted such a survey for the first time in reaction to the recent flow of genetic resources abroad.
The ministry then asked the prefectural governments in March to get an accurate picture of the facilities’ management situation and report it to the ministry annually.
The ministry also told the prefectural governments to inform operators that the business permits of facilities not in operation would be revoked.
Operators usually manage genetic resources at livestock farmers’ request and then sell them for breeding. According to the ministry’s survey, 457 such operators — 28 percent — out of 1,634 were not in operation, mainly because of death or old age.
Some prefectural governments had not been aware of the number of facilities in service and their management situation.
In the China affair, a livestock farmer in Tokushima Prefecture, who is believed to be the source of the wagyu genetic resources outflow, was later indicted for providing aid to suspects who violated the Domestic Animal Infectious Diseases Control Law. He ran a livestock artificial insemination facility.
According to the ministry survey, a livestock artificial insemination facility was confirmed to have been asked by people uninvolved in the livestock business to sell them the genetic resources.
To open a livestock artificial insemination facility in a given prefecture, operators must receive permission from the respective prefectural governor.
Operators are usually veterinary doctors with a national qualification, or livestock artificial insemination specialists.
When livestock farmers collect and produce genetic resources outside their own farms, they violate the Improvement and Increased Production of Livestock Law, which carries a penalty of up to ¥500,000.