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China successfully clones 3 'super cows'

Cows peek out of a fence near a highway on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Delta, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Cows peek out of a fence near a highway on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Delta, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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In an experiment that sounds like a page taken from a science-fiction novel, China said it has successfully cloned three "super cow" calves, according to Global Times.

What makes a cow a "super cow?" China said these new calves, which were born last month in Lingwu City, will eventually produce 50% more milk than the traditional American cow, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The research was done at Northwest A&F University, a public university in Shaanxi.

"The first calf weighs 56.7 kilograms (125 lbs.) and was 76 centimeters (2'6") tall and 113 centimeters (3'8.5") long at birth, and it bore the exact shape and skin pattern of its cloned target," the school stated in a news release.

China said that each calf will eventually produce 18 tons of milk per year. Currently, American cows can produce roughly 12 tons of milk per year.


According to Global Times, China has 6.6 million Holstein Friesian cows, a breed imported from the Netherlands. This particular breed is known for producing more milk than the typical cow.

Despite the Dutch bovines producing more milk than the average cow, just 5 in 10,000 actually produce 50% more milk than the average cow. It's from these cattle that Chinese scientists extracted the needed cells to clone these high milk-producing calves. When mature, these calves will be parents to a new herd of "super cows."

"We plan to take two to three years to build up a herd comprised of over 1,000 super cows, as a solid foundation to tackle China's reliance on overseas dairy cows," said bovine veterinarian Yaping Jin, who led the experiment.

In addition to producing more milk, Chinese researchers said the cows are also less stressed and live longer than their non-cloned counterparts.


The Chinese used a process called "somatic cell cloning" to achieve the three successful calf births by removing tissue from existing cows' ears.

Somatic cell cloning (cloning or nuclear transfer) is a technique in which the nucleus (DNA) of a somatic cell is transferred into an enucleated metaphase-II oocyte for the generation of a new individual, genetically identical to the somatic cell donor," the Chinese study states. "Somatic cloning may be used to generate multiple copies of genetically elite farm animals, to produce transgenic animals for pharmaceutical protein production or xeno-transplantation, or to preserve endangered species... In addition to its practical applications, cloning has become an essential tool for studying gene function, genomic imprinting, genomic re-programming, regulation of development, genetic diseases, and gene therapy, as well as many other topics."

With an ever-expanding population, China's demand for cattle has skyrocketed during the past couple of decades in large part to the rapidly growing middle class, which brings along a higher demand for dairy products.

The superpower imports 70% of its cattle from other countries, which is starting to become a problem as more countries are banning the sale of the much-coveted Holstein Friesian cows to China. Countries that do sell Holstein Friesian cows to China are starting to become exhausted by the demand, according to Global Times.


The Chinese say, "yes" ... and, so does the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA even has a section on its website with information to dispel conspiracy theories and rumors that human tissue is used in the cloning process.

The clones we’re talking about here are 'just clones,' the FDA notes online. "They don’t have any new genes added to them, and they don’t make pharmaceuticals (or any other non-milk substances) in their milk. They just do the same thing as their conventionally bred counterparts. Cows that make pharmaceuticals in their milk are genetically engineered—that is, they have new genes added to them. Some of these genetically engineered animals can be reproduced by cloning, which is why some people get confused about this concept."
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