BEACON TRANSCRIPT – The world’s biggest cloning factory in China claims to own the necessary technology to actually replicate humans. Although this sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie, Xu Xiaochun said he hasn’t been reproducing people only for fear of the public’s reaction.
According to news agency AFP, Boyalife Group and its partners plan to “clone one million cows a year by 2020” in a giant plant that’s currently under construction in the northern Chinese port of Tianjin. Production is set to be launched sometime in the next seven months.
But Xiaochun’s ambitions are bigger than just cattle. Boyalife’s chief executive is also planning to create pure-blood racehorses, pet dogs and police dogs; the latter will be specialized in sniffing and searching.
Ahead of the enthusiastic plans, BOyalife has already started collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and its South Korean partner Sooam in improving “primate cloning capacity.” The ultimate purpose here is to design better test animals for research that attempts to prevent disease.
And given the extremely short step that needs to be taken between monkeys to humans, people have the right to raise a host of ethical and moral questions about the controversial technology. Xu thinks, if by any chance the procedure is allowed, his company provides the best technology there is.
Human cloning activities are not yet authorized, so Boyalife hasn’t engaged in any; Xu added that possible adverse reactions have made him cautious and “self-restrained.” But he also thinks that values and attitudes can change – citing the currently changing views upon homosexuality – which can lead to a time when people would want more choices about their own reproduction.
Boyalife’s Tianjin facility presents cloning “as a safeguard of biodiversity,” capable of housing a gene bank with five million cell samples frozen in liquid nitrogen. One of the more interesting projects taking place in partnership with Sooam is the attempt of bringing back the extinct mammoth by cloning cells preserved in the Siberian permafrost for thousands of years.
One of the niche markets Sooam also serves is the business of recreating customers’ dead pet dogs; so if your dog died and you have $100,000 lying around, you might be in luck. But Xu wants to focus on becoming the world’s first curator of “cloned” beef, creating genetically identical super-cattle that will allow butchers to “slaughter less and produce more.”
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