World's Biggest Cloning Factory Claims to Have the Technology to Clone Human Beings

Tuesday, 01 December 2015 - 1:34PM
Science News
Tuesday, 01 December 2015 - 1:34PM
World's Biggest Cloning Factory Claims to Have the Technology to Clone Human Beings
Boyalife Group, a cloning factory in China, is getting ready to attempt to revolutionize the meat industry by cloning one million cows for beef per year by 2020. But as the technology has become more advanced, CEO Xu Xiaochun claims that they are already capable of cloning human beings, but they are refraining for fear of public backlash. 
Opening quote
"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."
Closing quote

Boyalife's facility in Tianjin will contain a gene bank that can hold up to five million genetic samples, which could potentially preserve endangered species to be resurrected in a protected environment. They have teamed up with South Korean company Sooam, who are working on a project to bring the woolly mammoth back to life after being extinct for 10,000 years, and are working on a commercial project to bring deceased pets back to life for $100,000. 

Sooam's founder, Hwang Woo-Suk, is also responsible for creating the world's first cloned dog, Snuppy, back in 2005. He was considered to be on the forefront of cloning research, until his claims that he cloned a human embryo were discredited and he was fired from his university position. Earlier this year, Hwang said he was pursuing a cloning project with a Chinese company "because of South Korea's bioethics law that prohibits the use of human eggs."

Opening quote
"We have decided to locate the facilities in China in case we enter the phase of applying the technology to human bodies," he said.
Closing quote

There are many ethical implications for human cloning, so there's a chance that the world will not be ready for it for a long time. However, Xu is optimistic that views can change, and that cloning will become normalized as we begin to think differently about certain social constructs, such as families with two same-sex parents or single parenthood. 

Opening quote
"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. 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."
Closing quote

Some scientists have already spoken out against the practice on ethical grounds, and other experts have expressed concerns about the feasibility of the company's timeline, particularly when it comes to the cloned beef:

Opening quote
"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," said Han Lanzhi, a GMO safety specialist at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. "There must be strong regulation because as a company pursuing its own interests, they could very easily do other things in the future."
Closing quote

But in spite of the controversy surrounding the practice of human cloning, Xu believes that at its core, it's not different from any other inevitable scientific advancement:

Opening quote
"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."
Closing quote

Via Business Insider.
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