China / Innovation

Tianjin to build largest animal cloning site

By Wang Wen (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-24 08:11

Tianjin is expected to build the world's largest animal cloning factory next year for the cloning of beef and dairy cattle, dogs and racehorses, a leader in the stem cell and biological medicine industry said on Monday.

Boyalife Group Ltd said that 200 million yuan ($31.3 million) will be invested in the factory after its subsidiary, Yingke Boya Gene Technology (Tianjin), signed an agreement on the project with the Tianjin International Joint Academy of Biotechnology and Medicine, the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation of South Korea and the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area.

The factory will include a 15,000-square-meter laboratory, an animal center, a gene bank and a science and education exhibition hall, it said.

Boyalife will invest in infrastructure, while Sooam Biotech will mainly provide technology for the project.

The factory is expected to clone 100,000 cattle for beef and milk in its first phase, said Xu Xiaochun, chairman of Jiangsu-based Boyalife Group, the only commercial provider of cloned animals in China.

He added that the number will reach 1 million in the second phase.

The market for beef from cloned cattle has huge potential in China, since there has been a shortage of beef for years, causing prices to more than triple between 2000 and 2013, Xu said.

With a large number of cloned cattle to be provided by the factory, the average price of such beef would be expected to be lower than that of regular beef on the market, he said.

Xu said that Boyalife will also leverage its technology in animal cloning to clone dogs and racehorses in the factory.

Animal cloning and the technology for doing so have been controversial worldwide because of issues including animal welfare and food safety.

However, Zhang Yong, a professor at the Veterinary Medicine College of Northwest A & F University, said the public should not worry about the safety of such products. "Beef from cloned cattle is safe to eat," he said, adding that cloning does not change the material composition of a product.

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