Cloning calves

APPLYING the same technique used for cloning Dolly, the first adult animal clone, scientists in Japan have cloned 15 calves since July 15. Out of the 15 cloned calves, nine have survived. "Our primary aim is to revive Japan's cattle industry," said Makato Tabata, in charge of cloning research in the ministry of agriculture. At present, imported beef now accounts for more than 50 per cent of the domestic market.

Yoshito Aoyagi, chief scientist at the Cloning Research Institute at Tsukuba, north of Japan, hoped "cloning would spawn a breed of super cattle and reliable source of high quality beef that can be produced at lower cost".

Aoyagi and his colleague had earlier cloned two calves using a more "primitive" method where an embryo cell was inserted into an egg whose nucleus had been removed. After the two cells were fused by an electric shock, the egg was put into the womb of a surrogate cow.

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