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Animal Cloning: World's Largest Factory In China Will Produce Cattle, Dogs and Horses

Dec 01, 2015 06:12 PM EST
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China is taking animal cloning to a whole new level with the construction of the world's largest animal cloning factory. When completed, scientists hope to churn out dogs, horses and cattle.

The $31 million facility is expected to open in the Chinese port city of Tianjjin next yea, and is a joint project built by Sinica, a subsidiary of Jiangsu-based Boyalife Group, along with Peking University's Institute of Molecular Medicine, the Tianjin International Joint Academy of Biomedicine, and the Republic of Korea's Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, according to a news release.

"It will produce 100,000 cattle embryos a year initially, eventually increasing to 1 million," Xu Xiaochun, board chairman of Boyalife Group, a Chinese biotechnology firm, explained in the release. "Chinese farmers are struggling to produce enough beef cattle to meat market demand."

Prior to this, cloning in China had been limited to scientific research. However, an increasing number of companies have expressed interest in investing in the technology for commercial use. In addition to cloning, the facility will house a gene bank and museum.

The first cloning success was seen in Dolly the sheep, who was born on July 5, 1996 in Britain. Since then, scientists have cloned mice, cattle, pigs and other animals. However, the scientific practice often raises ethical concerns.

"The most important thing with any technology being used in the food supply is to ensure that products made from those technologies are safe to eat," Gregory Jaffe, biotech project director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said.

Following a rise in cloning research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled in 2008 that food from cloned animals is safe to eat. In fact, the agency's risk assessment found the composition of food products from clones and their offspring was no different than that of conventionally bred animals. 

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