Chinese company Boyalife has revealed its plans to build the world's biggest cloning factory in Tianjin in partnership with Sooam Biotech, a South Korea firm. Boyalife said it will spend 200 million yuan ($31 million) on this project to meet fast increasing demand for beef in the country.
Tianjin is located about 100 miles from the Chinese capital and is the infamous site of chemical explosion that killed 165 people in August this year. The cloning facility will be built near the site where chemical explosion occurred.
Sooam Biotech is run by Seoul-based Hwang Woo-suk who was once dubbed the “king of cloning”. In 2006, he was found guilty of gross ethical lapses in his cloning research and in methods of obtaining human eggs for the research work.
The new animal cloning factory will be built in an area of around 14,000 sq. m. and will be operated by Boyalife. It will include an animal cloning center, an innovative lab, a gene bank, an educational exhibition hall, and a museum. Boyalife's chief executive Xu Xiaochun said they expect the facility to produce 100,000 cow embryos annually during first phase, and the capacity will be increased to a million annually in second phase. The production will start with Japanese cows, which according to Xu Xiaochun, might help control the beef price in the Chinese market. The facility will also clone champion racehorses, sniffer dogs and critically endangered species later.
"We are building something that has not existed in the past." Xu said.
"This is going to change our world and our lives."
For Xu Xiaochun, lack of public education is a matter of concern in this area.
"Clone technology is already around us." Mr. Xu said during a conference call with journalists on Thursday.
"It's just that not everyone knows about it."
Mr. Xu revealed that several varieties of bananas and strawberries currently available in Chinese supermarkets are being prepared using cloning technology.
"And I call tell you all that cloned beef is the tastiest beef I have ever had." he said.
Despite Xu's enthusiasm, online reaction to new cloning facility has been overwhelmingly negative.
"Crazily evil!!!" a user No-Music-No-Life commented on Weibo.
"Please serve cloned beef to leaders first!" another user Xingchen Miaoyu wrote.
According to Mr. Xu, his company will first receive approval from concerned departments and ministries before introducing cloned beef to the market.