BBC News - China cloning on an ‘industrial scale’
You hear the squeals of the pigs long before reaching a set of long buildings set in rolling hills in southern China.
Feeding time produces a frenzy as the animals strain against the railings around their pens. But this is no ordinary farm.
Run by a fast-growing company called BGI, this facility has become the world’s largest centre for the cloning of pigs.
The technology involved is not particularly novel - but what is new is the application of mass production.
The first shed contains 90 animals in two long rows. They look perfectly normal, as one would expect, but each of them is carrying cloned embryos. Many are clones themselves.
This place produces an astonishing 500 cloned pigs a year: China is exploiting science on an industrial scale.
Wang JunChief executive, BGI
If it tastes good you should sequence it… you should know what’s in the genes of that species”
To my surprise, we’re taken to see how the work is done. A room next to the pens serves as a surgery and a sow is under anaesthetic, lying on her back on an operating table. An oxygen mask is fitted over her snout and she’s breathing steadily. Blue plastic bags cover her trotters.
Two technicians have inserted a fibre-optic probe to locate the sow’s uterus. A third retrieves a small test-tube from a fridge: these are the blastocysts, early stage embryos prepared in a lab. In a moment, they will be implanted.