China Cloning 500 Pigs a Year

#Future

Mon, Jan 13th, 2014 23:04 by capnasty NEWS

According to the BBC's Science Editor David Shukman, while cloning of animals is not a novel idea, it would appear that only China has taken it to an industrial scale, capable of producing 500 pigs a year -- used for all sorts of purposes -- and sequencing the genome of thousands of species.

This place produces an astonishing 500 cloned pigs a year: China is exploiting science on an industrial scale.

To my surprise, we're taken to see how the work is done. A room next to the pens serves as a surgery and a sow is under anaesthetic, lying on her back on an operating table. An oxygen mask is fitted over her snout and she's breathing steadily. Blue plastic bags cover her trotters.

Two technicians have inserted a fibre-optic probe to locate the sow's uterus. A third retrieves a small test-tube from a fridge: these are the blastocysts, early stage embryos prepared in a lab. In a moment, they will be implanted.

The room is not air-conditioned; nor is it particularly clean. Flies buzz around the pig's head.

My first thought is that the operation is being conducted with an air of total routine. Even the presence of a foreign television crew seems to make little difference. The animal is comfortable but there's no sensitivity about how we might react, let alone what animal rights campaigners might make of it all.

I check the figures: the team can do two implantations a day. The success rate is about 70-80%.

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