Next year, a Chinese biotech firm plans to break ground on the world’s largest cloning factory. Boyalife Group announced this week that its new facility will house a cloning production line, a cloned animal center, a gene bank, as well as a science and education exhibition hall. The factory will be used to make clones of countless animal species, from beef cattle to house pets.
The factory is planned to go up in the city of Tianjin, which just three months ago suffered a catastrophic industrial explosion in the heart of the special development zone. The $31 million project is a partnership between a Boyalife subsidiary, two domestic research institutions, and Sooam Bitotech Research Foundation from South Korea. Of all the cloned creatures the factory will churn out, the first will be Japanese cows, selected in an effort to lower the price of premium beef in the Chinese market.
Boyalife’s chairman and CEO, Dr. Xu Xiaochun, told Chinese media, “[We are] now promoting cloned cows and cloned horses to improve China’s modern animal husbandry industry.” The exec went on to say the factory will create 100,000 cattle embryos a year initially, with plans to eventually increase to 1 million annually.
The backers of the new cloning factory insist that they are not solely in business to improve the Chinese livestock industry. It’s also intended to be “the world’s only” research institution that will create cloned “disease models” of large animals, according to Xu. This would be similar to the factory in Shenzhen, China where 500 pigs a year are cloned for research purposes, which means everything from cosmetics testing to forensic experiments.