An Important Field
Ever since the advent of a wise thinking creature like man has occurred
on earth, he has yearned for three things; first to conquer over death and
mortality, second to be free from all disease and suffering and third to be
able to master the choice of production of desired sexed off-springs. The
fist two wishes can not be granted for reasons very obvious to a person
expert in the field of thinking, practice and theory of scientific and
philosophical arenas. But the nature has decided to satiate the third
desire of the mankind; i.e. to produce the off-springs of desired sex. This
has happened in the form of the success in the discovery of an in vivo
mammalian female sex fixer, named Aulprofem (Aulakh, 2008). Aulprofem
being the world’s first mammalian sex fixer, produces female off-springs
in dairy animals and other mammals. Even in a time period much before
the actual happening of this discovery, this field of scientific research has
attracted the attention of many a scientists and thinkers. The reason
behind this may be that mammals are an important family and any
success in manipulating sex ratios in mammals has much to do with the
changing of the very fabric of social and economical aspect and essence of
life. Today’s world has seen considerable changes in the life of man.
These days sex fixing is a dream preference; not only in the case of Homo
sapiens, but the various other mammalian species that are connected
with this most dominating organism on earth. The animals such as cattle,
horses, dogs, sheep, camels, cats, pigs and the list is endless; all have
shared and amalgamated their destinies with the man in the long journey
of evolution and development of species and societies, due to their use
and application by man for his own benefits; and there have been attempts
to go for sex fixing for all of these species. It is a different question that
there has not been reported much success till date but even then it has
remained one of the most fascinating subjects ever to be tackled by the
exploring and pioneering human mentality. Many scientists and social
thinkers have concentrated their minds and thoughts over this and we
will like to discuss a few of the examples in this brief write-up.
To and Chan et al. (1994) has described the importance of sex fixing
as ‘The desire to control the sex of one’s offspring is as old as recorded
history. Most doctors dealing with pregnant or would be pregnant women
have been asked this question one or more times whether there is a
method which could determine the sex desired for a future child. Such
methods have existed in folklore tales in many ancient cultures, such as
Greek mythology, the Bible, the Talmud and indeed abundantly in Chinese
scripts as well’.
‘Dairy farm operations require the female of the species, cows, for milk production. Males of the species, bulls, for example are only important for breeding purposes. Thus, it is clear that any method that safely and effectively increases the production of female off-springs versus male offsprings would greatly benefit dairy cattle breeders and farmers and, therefore be very valuable. Such a method would allow more effective and efficient farm operation, save money and increase farm milk production’. These are the words to describe the importance of sex fixing in dairy cattle, preferably on the female side in the official patent specification description of U.S. patent granted to Zavos and Dawson (1991). Hafez (1982) has pointed at the practical application of sexed semen technologies for the following purposes:
- More female progeny from superior females for herd and flock replacements and increased milk, meat and pelt production.
- More males for meat production from culled females and crossbreeding schemes, e.g., dairy × beef crosses.
- Ensuring male progeny as herd sires from top dam × sire crosses.
- Ensuring appropriate progeny when progeny testing young bulls.
- Avoiding intersexes in multiple births.
- Gender selection in horses will provide more progeny for sale and more progeny for brood mare replacements.
In a recent review, the distinguished Edinburgh reproductive physiologist, Prof. R.V. Short (1982) has opined that regulation of primary sex ratio has remained a mirage on the horizon. Prof. R.H.F. Hunter (1982) has expressed his opinion thus ‘A longstanding objective of the reproductive physiologists has been to separate X-bearing and Y-bearing spermatozoa so that insemination of the fractions would lead to the offspring of the known sex. There have been many claims of success, and certainly the sex ratio has periodically been shifted from approximately 50:50 males to females. However no methodology has yet yielded a predictable, repeatable and significant shift in the sex ratio, nor at present there are rational grounds for supposing that this can be achieved’. Charles F. Westoff and Ronald R. Rindfuss (1974) has concluded in an article that if efficient technologies are evolved for sex fixing in case of human species; they would not have much impact on the overall sex ratios in the developed economies like U.S.A. In their words ‘temporary effect would be a surplus of male births in the first couple of years. This would be followed by a wave of female births to achieve balance, and the oscillations would eventually damp out. Ultimately under conditions of sex predetermination, the sex ratio would be similar to the existing natural sex ratio at birth of 105 males to 100 females………. In other developed countries, sex-control technology may have more of an effect on the sex ratio because of the much greater frequency of one child families. Indeed if fertility continues to decline in the United States and one child family becomes more common, an increase in the proportion of male births would then also be expected here. In the developing countries, the greater cultural emphasis on having sons suggests the possibility of a more radical impact on the sex ratio. But it is clear from the data that only the major impact in the United States would be on the first two births, with little effect on the overall sex ratio at birth’. Bromwich (1989) gives a description on the working of human mind as regards the selection of sexed off-springs in these words,‘ A boy is desired by many couples as their first born, often because of inheritance issues, but in agrarian societies male infants are priced for their usefulness on the farm. And in others, because they bring wealth to the family when they marry’.
Sex fixing if practiced by uneducated and ignorant masses, can cause havoc in the natural balances in case of human populations. As estimated by Kumar (1985) nearly 2, 50,000 baby girls were aborted due to infanticide in India between 1979 and 1984 with the end result that there remained only 100 girls for every 111 boys; meaning very well that many men will be left without wives. But if such things happen, the Mother Nature will surely find a way to balance it to equilibrium as told by Egozcue (1993).
Aulakh, B.S. 2008. Sex assignment and determination in dairy animals.
Pashudhan 34(4): 7. Bromwich, P. 1989. The sex ratio, and the ways of manipulating it. In: Studd, J. ed. Progress in obstetrics and gynecology. Vol. VII. London: Churchill Livingstone, pp. 217-31.
Charles C. Westoff and Ronald R. Rindfuss. 1974. Sex preselection in the United States: Some implications. Science 184: 633-36.
Hunter, R.H.F. 1982. Reproduction of farm animals. Longman. London, pp. 138-9. Hafez, E.S.E. 1982. Reproduction in farm animals. Reprint 5th edn. Lea and Fabiger, p. 499. To, W.W.K. and Chan, Y.F. 1994. Gender preselection. J. Hong Kong Med. Assoc. 46: 4. Sex Fixing: An Important Field–What the Experts Say? 15
Short, R.V. 1982. Quoted by Hunter RHF in Reproduction of farm animals. Longman. London, pp. 138-9.
Kumar, D. 1985. Should one be free to choose the sex of one’s child? J. Applied Philosephy 2: 197-204.
Egozcue, J. 1993. Sex selection: why not? Human Reprod 8: 1777. Zavos, M. and Dawson, K.A. 1991. Method for X and Y spermatozoa separation. U.S. patent no. 4, 999, 283.