The world’s biggest animal “cloning factory” is due to open in China,
producing one million calves a year, sniffer dogs and even genetic copies of the
The £21 million “commercial” facility will edge the controversial science “closer to mainstream acceptance”, Chinese media said, following the development of a technique which began when Dolly the sheep became the first cloned mammal when she was born in Scotland in 1996.
The Chinese scientist who led the development of the world’s first cloning factory says he is now ready to replicate humans. His only fear is that the society is not ready to accept this, he told AFP.
The giant cloning facility is set to open within the next seven months, and plans to be cloning 1 million cows a year by 2020. Other animals to be cloned include racehorses and police dogs.
Mr Xu said his new facility will clone racehorses and a handful of dogs for people with “emotional ties” to their pets, but its main focus was producing cattle.
However, he appeared to be more excited about its ability to churn out sniffer dogs. “The dog has to be smart and obedient, strong, sensitive,” he said. “That’s one in one hundred. You would normally have to look at a large number of dogs to find this one.”
The factory, which will include a 15,000 square metre laboratory, an animal centre, a gene bank and an exhibition hall, is currently being built in the port city of Tianjin, near Beijing, and is due to open in the first half of next year.
BoyaLife will operate the facility with its South Korean partner, Sooam Biotech, that runs a centre that can clone dogs for customers willing to pay $100,000 (£66,000), and has already produced more than 550 puppies.
Boyalife is also working with Sooam Biotech Research Foundation and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to develop primate cloning.
And this would mean just one step further – from monkeys – to human cloning, Xu Xiaochun said.
“The technology is already there. If this is allowed, I don’t think there are other companies better than Boyalife that make better technology,” he said.
However, hampering the project are ethical issues: the company says it has to be “self-restrained” to avoid a possible public backlash.
Xu is hopeful that people will change their views and let the research go ahead.
“Unfortunately, currently, the only way to have a child is to have it be half its mum, half its dad. Maybe in the future you have three choices instead of one. You either have fifty-fifty, or you have a choice of having the genetics 100 percent from Daddy or 100 percent from Mummy. This is only a choice,” the 44-year-old chief executive said.
Xu also wants to lift the veil on cloning, and to dispel people’s fears about it.
“We want the public to see that cloning is really not that crazy, that scientists aren’t weird, dressed in lab coats, hiding behind a sealed door doing weird experiments.”
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