China 'clone factory' scientist eyes human replication

December 1, 2015
Boyalife Group and its partners are building a giant cloning factory in Tianjin, which will aim for an output of one million clo
Boyalife Group and its partners are building a giant cloning factory in Tianjin, which will aim for an output of one million cloned cows a year by 2020

The Chinese scientist behind the world's biggest cloning factory has technology advanced enough to replicate humans, he told AFP, and is only holding off for fear of the public reaction.

Boyalife Group and its partners are building the giant plant in the northern Chinese port of Tianjin, where it is due to go into production within the next seven months and aims for an output of one million cloned cows a year by 2020.

But cattle are only the beginning of chief executive Xu Xiaochun's ambitions.

In the factory pipeline are also thoroughbred racehorses, as well as pet and police dogs, specialised in searching and sniffing.

Boyalife is already working with its South Korean partner Sooam and the Chinese Academy of Sciences to improve primate cloning capacity to create better test animals for disease research.

And it is a short biological step from monkeys to humans—potentially raising a host of moral and ethical controversies.

"The technology is already there," Xu said. "If this is allowed, I don't think there are other companies better than Boyalife that make better technology."

The firm does not currently engage in human cloning activities, Xu said, adding that it has to be "self-restrained" because of possible adverse reaction.

But social values can change, he pointed out, citing changing views of homosexuality and suggesting that in time humans could have more choices about their own reproduction.

"Unfortunately, currently, the only way to have a child is to have it be half its mum, half its dad," he said.

"Maybe in the future you have three choices instead of one," he went on. "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."

Xu, 44, went to university in Canada and the US, and has previously worked for US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and in drug development.

The factory is aiming to produce "cloned" beef from breeding genetically identical super-cattle, to meet the demands o
The factory is aiming to produce "cloned" beef from breeding genetically identical super-cattle, to meet the demands of China's booming middle class

Snuppy the cloned dog

Presenting cloning as a safeguard of biodiversity, the Tianjin facility will house a gene bank capable of holding up to approximately five million cell samples frozen in liquid nitrogen—a catalogue of the world's endangered species for future regeneration.

Boyalife's South Korean partner Sooam is already working on a project to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction by cloning cells preserved for thousands of years in the Siberian permafrost.

Sooam also serves a niche market recreating customers' dead pet dogs, reportedly for $100,000 a time.

Sooam founder Hwang Woo-Suk was a national hero with his own postage stamp before being embroiled in controversy a decade ago after his claims to be the first in the world to clone a human embryo were discredited.

Hwang, who created Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog, in 2005, lost his university position, had two major papers retracted, and was accused of crimes ranging from violation of bioethics laws to embezzling research funds.

Earlier this year he was quoted in South Korea's Dong-A Ilbo newspaper saying that his firm was planning a cloning joint venture in China "because of South Korea's bioethics law that prohibits the use of human eggs".

"We have decided to locate the facilities in China in case we enter the phase of applying the technology to human bodies," he was quoted as saying.

'Weird experiments'

For now, Xu seeks to become the world's first purveyor of "cloned" beef, breeding genetically identical super-cattle that he promises will taste like Kobe and allow butchers to "slaughter less and produce more" to meet the demands of China's booming middle class.

Cloning differs from genetic modification, but its application to animals would enable the firm to homogenise its output.

In the factory's pipeline are thoroughbred racehorses, as well as pet and police dogs, specialised in searching and sniffing
In the factory's pipeline are thoroughbred racehorses, as well as pet and police dogs, specialised in searching and sniffing

"Everything in the supermarket looks good—it's almost all shiny, good-looking, and uniformly shaped. For animals, we weren't able to do that in the past. But with our cloning factory, we choose to do so now," Xu said.

"Remember, this is a food. We want it to be uniform, very consistent, very premium quality," he added.

There is controversy over whether cloned beef is safe for human consumption—research by the US Food and Drug Adminstration says that it is, but the European parliament has backed a ban on cloned animals and products in the food chain.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization has yet to review the issue.

Han Lanzhi, a GMO safety specialist at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said Boyalife's claims about the safety, scope and timeline of their operations were alarming—and implausible.

"To get approval for the safety of cloned animals would be a very drawn-out process, so when I heard this news, I felt very surprised," she said.

"There must be strong regulation because as a company pursuing its own interests, they could very easily do other things in the future," she added.

Xu sought to be reassuring, telling AFP: "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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dogbert
3.7 / 5 (7) Dec 01, 2015
China 'clone factory' scientist eyes human replication


Because, of course, China is severely underpopulated and its measly 700 million women do not want to bear children.

betterexists
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2015
S. Korea's Cloning Facility, Sooam to Recreate Dead Pet Dogs for $100,000 a piece.
How much does it cost To Recreate Einstein?

Do you think that you are worthy enough to be Cloned? Answer:
betterexists
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2015
Once they can stand on their feet, dump them in forests where there is abundant grass & water.
Collect them fully grown up a few years later.
We get Toyota Cars from Japan. So also, COWS from China OR from Elsewhere where they turn into huge adults. ALL World's FORESTS FULL OF COWS, WoW!
betterexists
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2015
LEARN to TURN the OXEN into COWS; WOW, BIG COWS!
krundoloss
3.5 / 5 (6) Dec 01, 2015
I think we will be better served by using insects, like mealworms, for protein instead of beef. Mealworms require only 43 percent of the amount of land used for the production of one kilogram of edible animal protein as milk, and only 10 percent of the land used for production of beef. src: http://news.disco...1220.htm

Sustainability will be important in the future, and having a source of protein that reduces resource consumption and does not require much agricultural land is more sustainable. Then of course we need technology to make it palatable, LOL.
betterexists
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 01, 2015
Once they can stand on their feet, dump them in forests where there is abundant grass & water.
Collect them fully grown up a few years later.
We get Toyota Cars from Japan. So also, COWS from China OR from Elsewhere where they turn into huge adults. ALL World's FORESTS FULL OF COWS, WoW!

If so, Nice to know that they will get a free ride too. They are already entitled to free food right out of ground. All in one FREE FOOD CYCLE until it exits human's system!
big_hairy_jimbo
1 / 5 (1) Dec 02, 2015
So combine this cloning factory with CRISPR technology (which they are doing for their police dogs), and throw in a good pinch of EVIL, and hey presto you have your ideal soldier!!! Or perhaps DRONE humans for dangerous tasks. Send in another 1000 cloned drone humans to clean up the nuclear reactor accident. The NEW slave class, built for obedience and purpose. Of course sci-fi now, but for how long? Once they solve the IMPRINTING problem of giving them the education they need quickly, the world will change. Also the rich will want a cloned version of themselves, as a spare parts source for transplantation.
The future is bizarre!!!!!

Ohhh watch the movie MOON for more inspiration!!
baudrunner
5 / 5 (1) Dec 03, 2015
Cloning removes a phenotype from the constantly evolving gene pool. That is not a good idea, because evolution accelerates, ergo the life force is in acceleration, and continued cloning of the same cow will eventually produce an inferior animal with many traits resulting from gene recession, including difficulty relating to reality to the same degree that normally evolved life relates to it.

Continued reproduction of the same phenotype eventually results in a large pool of recessive genes, including individuals with undesirable anuploidies. Cloning is really not a very good idea.

baudrunner
5 / 5 (1) Dec 03, 2015
Cloning removes a phenotype from the constantly evolving gene pool. That is not a good idea, because evolution accelerates, ergo the life force is in acceleration, and continued cloning of the same cow will eventually produce an inferior animal with many traits resulting from gene recession, including difficulty relating to reality to the same degree that normally evolved life relates to it.

Continued reproduction of the same phenotype eventually results in a large pool of recessive genes, including individuals with undesirable anuploidies. Cloning is really not a very good idea.

baudrunner
5 / 5 (1) Dec 04, 2015
All this begs the question, "Why not leave the reproduction of cattle to enhanced natural selection through the artificial insemination of animals with desirable traits, as is now pretty much the case across the board?" Let nature take its course, with a little help from us. Evolution can continue to produce better cows that way. Clones become obsolete pretty fast.
Burnerjack
3 / 5 (2) Dec 06, 2015
I find difficulty in the first statement. The Chinese may have their reasons for not employing this technology, but I feel VERY confident its NOT for fear of public response. 'Public response' is probably dead last in priorities.
SuperThunder
1 / 5 (4) Dec 06, 2015
Oh no, once they can make cheaper Americans we're doomed.
EnricM
3 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2015
I think we will be better served by using insects, like mealworms, for protein instead of beef. Mealworms .


And what about getting it directly from plants?
These require even less resources.

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