Although many have their suspicions over the safety of milk consumption from cloned animals, the US FDA did away with doubts and said they are as safe as naturally produced milk.
Three “super cows” that can produce an abnormally large amount of milk have been successfully cloned by Chinese scientists, according to official media, which is being hailed as a milestone for the country’s dairy industry.
The three calves were bred by researchers at Northwest University of Agricultural and Forestry Science and Technology, and they were born in the Ningxia region in the weeks preceding the Lunar New Year on 23 January, the state-run China Daily reported.
The animals were created through the process of cloning from exceptionally productive Dutch-bred Holstein Friesian cows. The selected animals have the capacity to produce 100 tons of milk during their lifespan, or 18 tons of milk annually.
That is roughly 1.7 times the quantity of milk that a typical American cow produced in 2021, the US Department of Agriculture said.
Due to its rather enormous size of 56.7kg, the first of the cloned calves was delivered on 30 December by cesarean section.
The scientists created 120 cloned embryos from the highly productive cows’ ear cells and implanted them in surrogate cows.
Cloned “super cows” could allow China to preserve its greatest dairy breeds and avoid the biosecurity risk associated with importing live cows from other nations, according to Jin Yaping, the project’s principal scientist. Currently, China imports over 70% of its dairy cows, according to the report.
“We plan to raise a herd of 1,000 super cows in two to three years. This will provide key support in creating our own breeding bulls and dairy cows, thus easing China’s dependency on importing cattle,” Jin was quoted as saying.
“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 and the issue of the risk of being ‘choked’ [by supply chain disruptions],” Jin told the state-run newspaper Global Times, as reported by the CNN.
Many users online rushed to express their speculations over the safety of milk produced by cloned cows. The US Food and Drug Administration put doubts to bed in 2008 when it formed the conclusion that cloned animal meat and milk are just as safe as their equivalents from naturally produced animals.
One of the scientists who worked on the cattle cloning, Wang Bingke, said that the milk was identical to that produced by the original cows, according to China Daily.
“There is no gene editing involved in the process, so the cloned cow is just like the genetic parent, and thus the milk’s nutritional value is the same,” he said, as quoted by the newspaper.
China has made significant strides in animal cloning in recent years. The first cloned monkey in the world was created in 2017, while the first cloned Arctic wolf was created last year.