Cloning isn’t something you come across everyday. At least, you might not think so, but it’s actually more prevalent than many would believe.
The FDA even has a page dedicated to it.
“The main use of agricultural clones is to produce breeding stock, not food,” the FDA maintains. “Clones allow farmers to upgrade the overall quality of their herds by providing more copies of the best animals in the herd. These animals are then used for conventional breeding, and the sexually reproduced offspring become the food-producing animals.”
The offspring are not considered clones, but rather part of the regular herd.
Farmers may choose to clone their animals based on traits such as disease resistance, suitability to climate, body type, fertility, and market popularity. The FDA claims it is impossible to distinguish a healthy clone from a conventionally bred animal.
While the U.S. may stake its claim in cows, Japanese scientists are making the most of mice.
According to Live Science, researchers from Japan have been working overtime, creating over 580 mice from a single cell donor and 25 rounds of nuclear transfer cloning.
Like making a copy of a copy, cloning clones has previously produced less than optimal results. And with mice, the same rules would seemingly still apply.
But maybe they don’t.
“This is a very important set of results,” geneticist George Church of Harvard Medical School told LiveScience. “It’s not just that it’s 25 sequential clonings, it’s that they found a way to improve things five-fold.”
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With sheep, goats, and cattle out of the way, elsewhere on the farm, pigs have also been reproduced by cloning.
Pig organs, in many cases, are biologically similar to their human counterparts, National Geographic reports. However, they are also coated by sugar molecules that human bodies will reject outright, making them unsuitable for transplantation.
The solution, scientists believe, lies in cloning pigs that do not produce those sugar molecules.
A handful of pigs have been cloned through nuclear transfer, although they’ve all died shortly after birth.
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