China is building an animal cloning factory to satisfy meat demands

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The more developed a nation becomes, the more meat its citizens consume, and while Chinese families may not consume as much meat as their Western counterparts, their meat consumption is definitely on the rise. China’s economy has been growing at a ridiculous pace, and so has its middle class. Chinese families are finding themselves with more money than ever, which means they can afford to have more meat in their diets. The problem is, when you’re a nation of more than 1.3 billion people, supplying all of these families with meat is rather difficult, and China’s solution to this problem is one that many in the West would find unethical, or even abhorrent. The country is currently in the process of building the world’s largest animal cloning factory in order to meet consumer demands for meat. 

The world’s largest animal cloning factory is under construction in China, with plans to churn out dogs, horses and up to a million beef cattle a year, reports said, prompting online and scientific concerns last week. The 200-million-yuan ($31-million) facility will include cloning laboratories and a gene bank, the official Xinhua news agency reported. It is being set up by Chinese biotechnology firm Boyalife and South Korea’s Sooam Biotech — whose founder was embroiled in controversy a decade ago over claims to have cloned human embryos — along with two Chinese research institutions. It will develop animals such as pet and police dogs, racehorses and cows, to be sold on the open market on an industrial scale. The factory in the northern port of Tianjin is set to start production next year, with initial capacity of 100,000 cattle embryos a year, growing to one million, Xinhua cited Boyalife chairman Xu Xiaochun as saying. “Chinese farmers are struggling to produce enough beef cattle to meet market demand,” he said. Boyalife reposted Xinhua’s report on its website last week. But social media users expressed scepticism over consumer appetite for cloned meat, pointing out that the plant will be near the site of chemical explosions that killed at least 165 people in August, and that China is plagued with food safety scandals.

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