In what sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, Chinese biotech company Boyalife announced plans on November 22nd to open a joint-venture with South Korean Sooam Biotech Research Foundation to mass produce cloned animals in a new factory in Tianjin by 2016, which has been dubbed “the world’s largest cloning factory.”
Boya Life Group is headed by chairman and CEO Dr. Xu Xiaochun, and hopes that after a more than 200 million RMB ($31 million) investment, the factory will be able to start producing expensive Japanese cattle by 2016, with initial targets of 100,000 per year and hopes to eventually achieve a rate of one million per year. The aim for the company is to meet the growing demand for beef in China by supplying cheap, high-quality cloned cattle.
The company was founded in 2009 in Wuxi, Zhejiang province. It has since grown into a large corporation consisting of 2 subsidiaries spread across 16 provinces.
Its South Korean partner, Sooam Biotech, is run by the infamous Dr. Hwang Woo-suk, who gained notoriety in 2005 after leading a team that produced the world’s first cloned dog, named Snuppy. He was later disgraced when in 2006 it was revealed that he falsified research and violated ethical norms during other experiments, notably one in which he claimed to harvest the STEM cells of cloned human embryos.
Regardless, Sooam has since grown to become a major producer of cloned dogs, having produced more than 550 of them since 2009 for the low price of $100,000 a pup. Sooam would later go on to partner with Boya last September when they collaborated in a joint-venture in Weihai that produced three expensive Tibetan mastiffs.
But cattle is only the tip of the iceberg. If everything goes their way, Dr. Xu hopes to produce everything from pets and sniffer dogs to cloned race horses and even endangered species such as the panda
“This is going to change our world and our way of life,” Dr. Xu explains. “It is going to make our life better, so we are very very excited about it.”
However, given that this new facility is set to open near the site of a recent chemical explosion that killed 165 people in August, and that China’s food safety history has been less than phenomenal, many Chinese netizens expressed skepticism, despite the fact that scientists and authorities in the U.S., UK, Europe, and China have found no differences in the affects of meat from cloned livestock towards the health of human consumers.
One netizen remarked, “This beef definitely must first be saved just for the central government leaders; only after they and their families have eaten if for 10 years should they deign to give it to us, the people! Really can’t wait!”
Combined with the introduction of Soylent, it is clear to see that humanity is marching ever forward into a bright, brave new world:
What could possibly go wrong?
By Stanley Yu
[Images via Wikimedia]