In shocking animal news this week, controversy has erupted over a cloning plant set to be established in China. The mass production factory is slated to create vast quantities of animals for various uses — including human consumption — involving dogs, horses, and cows. According to The Independent News this Wednesday, November 25, 2015, China hopes to use modern cloning technology to create hundreds of thousands of beef cattle in as little as twelve months.
The idea of cloning animals might initially sound limitless. After all, how incredible would it be to take a favorite pet, be it a dog, cat, or hamster, and create a replication of that beloved four-legged member of the family? Yet China is prompting quite a bit of worry among animal lovers and health enthusiasts abroad this week with their major announcement that they intend to create a massive animal cloning plant in the near future.
The factory itself, which is expected to cost over $20 million dollars, is being supported by Sooam Biotech of South Korea and Boyalife of China, major biotechnology firms. One of the frontrunners of the mass cloning experiment has also elicited some concern from animal rights supporters. Hwang Woo-suk, as the founder of Sooam Biotech, is said to be one of the figureheads behind the cloning plant. However, he was also a major player in a serious controversy back in the mid 2000s when he worked alongside Chinese research institutions who alleged to have successfully created cloned embryos of human beings. An investigation into his experiments found that his research did not follow ethical protocol and was unable to be substantiated.
In a press release this week via Sky News, the mass production animal factory will be erected in Tianjin, a northern Chinese port. Supporters say that animals used for human consumption (such as cows), professional work (such as police dogs), and recreation (racehorses and pet dogs and cats) will be cloned, raised, and ultimately sold on the Chinese market.
Production is expected to begin sometime in 2016, though an exact opening date is yet to be announced. One of the primary impetuses for the vast cloning experiment is reportedly due to a severe shortage of beef cattle and other meets in China. “Chinese farmers are struggling to produce enough beef cattle to meet market demand,” shared Xu Xiaochun, the chairman of Boyalife, in a recent statement.
Despite the need, many critics have been vocal on social media and other electronic outlets this week of the animal production factory. Controversy has been sparked regarding not only the quality of the meat, but of the ethics behind it. Some critics say that few people will be happy about eating cloned meat, especially considering that the new plant will not be far from the site where a massive chemical explosion killed over 150 people earlier this year. Others have claimed that food production in China has not always been the safest in terms of regulations in the past.
“Is this meat going to be sold in South Korea or China? If in China, please make our leaders eat it first,” commented one social media user. Another added in scorn: “This beef definitely must first be saved just for the central government leaders; only after they and their families have eaten it for 10 years should they deign to give it to us, the people! Really can’t wait!”
Do you feel the cloning process that would involve dogs and horses should continue? Some are saying that the plans should move forward immediately, while others have more ethical concerns. “Is cloning even legal?” a social media user asked. Another wrote: “Insane. There are already enough stray dogs [in China] at the moment, so many that the unclaimed ones are euthanized. What will be done with so many more?” Where do you stand on this issue?