5 min read

New Cloning Factory Will Churn Out Millions Of Dogs, Horses And Cows

In the race to feed its ever-growling belly, China is turning to clones in a big way.

A new super clone factory - the world's largest - will open next year with plans to churn out cows in million-plicate.

That's right. A million cloned cows. Annually.

In the country's feverish drive to feed the masses, notably a meat-craving middle class, scruples are off the table.

Especially ethical scruples.

The $31-million facility - backed by Chinese biotechnology firm BoyaLife and South Korea's Sooam Biotech - will boast cloning laboratories, as well as a gene bank, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The factory, based in the northern port city of Tianjin, aims to feed the country's meat-frenzied masses, especially an ever-growing middle class.

In recent years, China has dramatically upped its reliance on imported meat - a move that has had serious consequences for the rest of the world.

After all, the world has no choice but to pay attention to what the most populous country on Earth puts on its dinner plate.

"Whenever China goes from being a net exporter to a net importer of anything, it has a big impact on global prices," James Rice, chief of China operations for Tyson Foods, told The Guardian back in 2008.

These days, that's meat. With a side of meat.

With the advent of large-scale clone factories, however, the meat industry is poised to cut back on foreign beef imports in a big way. And that, too, will likely cause economic ripples across the planet.

But the factory isn't all about mass meat consumption. There are plans to clone police dogs, as well as thoroughbred horses.

Indeed, the scientist behind the plan claims it could also be a lifeline for species that find themselves on the brink of extinction.

"We are going [down] a path that no one has ever traveled," Xu Xiaochun, chief executive of BoyaLife told the Guardian. "We are building something that has not existed in the past."

After the announcement, however, some people on social media are wondering if the species that really requires a lifeline may be humanity.

It's been nearly 20 years since Scottish researchers introduced the world to Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell. It took 277 tries. But since then, science seems to have improved the test-tube birthing process.

China, in particular, has touted its success at cloning various "celebrity" animals since the early 2000s - including a pig who was proclaimed a hero following the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

The country established its first commercial cloning company in Shandong province last year, while simultaneously unveiling three cloned Tibetan mastiffs.

Perhaps China's game of clones is all about winning us over with saccharine images of puppies and pigs. We have yet to see what the Tianjin cloning factory brings to the table. And, we may never know exactly how it brings it to the table.