Gene Testing For Flavour Available To Beef Farmers

NEW ZEALAND - The days of the tough and tasteless steak will soon be an unpleasant memory. Gene markers that identify which cattle have tasty and tender meat are now available to beef breeders.
calendar icon 16 May 2007
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New Zealand-Australia joint venture Catapult Genetics last night launched a suite of gene markers that will identify marbling and tenderness, along with feed efficiency, a trait that measures how quickly animals grow.

Called GeneStar, the test for the markers was unveiled at a dinner in Palmerston North that heralds the start of Beef Expo, a three-day showcase of the top beef breeds. The menu featured a range of steaks competing in the Steak of Origin competition to find the country's tastiest steak.

Industry leaders recognised the markers' arrival as the start of a momentous leap forward for beef breeding, but farmers were wary.

"It is the start of another golden age in New Zealand agriculture," AgResearch chief executive Andy West said. The crown research institute owns Catapult Genetics with Meat and Wool New Zealand, the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Australian venture capital firm Nanyang Innovation Fund.

Such technological advances could raise productivity on beef farms by up to 300 per cent and would enable New Zealand to take advantage of trade gains from the end of European farm subsidies, growing demand from Asia and a switch in the United States from using cereals for food to fuelling cars.

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