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China’s Cloning Crusade: Technology for Human Replication ‘Already There’

The CEO and lead scientist of the world’s largest cloning factory says that they now have technology capable of replicating human beings.

“The technology is already there,” said Xu Xiaochun, the 44-year-old Chairman of the Boyalife group, which is building the $31 million cloning factory. “If this is allowed, I don’t think there are other companies better than Boyalife that make better technology.”

The company intends to begin operations in the first half of 2016 in Tianjin, a city some 100 miles southeast of Beijing.

Though the principal goal of the 150,000-square-foot facility will be cloning cattle, company executives aren’t closing the door to other species, including humans.

“Unfortunately, currently, the only way to have a child is to have it be half its mum, half its dad,” said Xu.

“Maybe in the future you have three choices instead of one. You either have fifty-fifty, or you have a choice of having the genetics 100 percent from Daddy or 100 percent from Mummy.”

Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, the South Korean company that is partnering with the Boyalife group, claims to have already successfully cloned wooly mammoths as well as dead pets. The market for deceased pets is reportedly extremely popular, with some people willing to pay up to $100,000 to bring a departed pet back to life.

The company’s ambitious plans include cloning 1 million cows a year by 2020, as well as the replication of racehorses and police dogs.

Xu says that the new venture is an “extremely important” contribution that could also help save endangered species from extinction.

Not everyone is as optimistic as Xu. One skeptic, a GMO safety specialist named Han Lanzhi at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, says that Boyalifie’s plans to clone cows for beef production aren’t feasible.

“To get approval for the safety of cloned animals would be a very drawn-out process, so when I heard this news, I felt very surprised,” she said.

“There must be strong regulation because as a company pursuing its own interests, they could very easily do other things in the future,” she added.

Xu says he wants to lift the taboo on cloning and make it a regular part of life.

“We want the public to see that cloning is really not that crazy, that scientists aren’t weird, dressed in lab coats, hiding behind a sealed door doing weird experiments,” he said.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome

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