WASHINGTON, D.C. (Feb. 22, 2007) – In the decade since scientists at Scotland’s Roslin Institute first announced that they had successfully cloned the first animal from an adult cell — a sheep named Dolly — animal cloning technology has substantially advanced and will soon begin offering consumers innovative and unique products and benefits.
“Ten years ago today, there occurred a dramatic moment in the world of biotechnology when Dolly’s successful birth was announced,” said Jim Greenwood, president and chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “Since Dolly, animal cloning technology has advanced significantly. Researchers have developed improved and safer cloning techniques that have resulted in normal births of healthy animal clones, and we are now applying this technology to a variety of applications. Today we are poised to utilize this technology to enhance food production, food security in developing countries, the health of farm animals and the safety of our food supply. Cloning will also tackle the challenge of the extinction of wild animals like the giant panda.”
Dolly was the first mammal to be successfully cloned using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology. This technique makes it possible to produce multiple animals from a single donor, and involves transferring the genetic information from a cell from the body of an animal into an empty oocyte, or egg. This process results in an embryo, which is implanted into a surrogate mother, who carries the pregnancy to term.
Animal cloning is an assisted reproductive technology that allows livestock breeders and farmers to produce identical twins of their best animals. In December 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a draft risk assessment which concluded that meat and milk products from animal clones and their offspring are safe for human consumption, and are no different from foods produced through other breeding methods. While currently there are no known products from animal clones and their offspring on the market, in the future, consumers will benefit from a healthier, consistent, and more abundant meat and milk supply produced from animal cloning.
In the decade since Dolly’s birth, scientists have successfully cloned over a dozen other species. These include cows, goats, pigs, horses, mules, deer, mice, cats, dogs, and rare and endangered species including the mouflon, gaur, banteng, and African wildcat. These advances were made possible by significant improvements in cloning techniques, which have also resulted in a decrease in unique health risks to animal clones. Decades of research and improvement in cloning techniques have resulted in the production of animal clones that are as healthy as conventional animals and those conceived through other forms of assisted reproductive technology.
“Cloning technology has enormous potential to positively impact the world in which we live,” Greenwood stated. “This technology gives us the opportunity to increase community health and well-being by providing people in developing countries with greater access to protein-rich animal food products. Farmers have an opportunity to meet consumer demand for high quality and safe food that is available in a reliable and consistent manner and conservationists have a fighting chance to preserve endangered animal species.”
Scientific resources on animal cloning can be found at www.CloneSafety.org.
BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.
Advance media registration for the BIO International Convention is now available online. Registration is complimentary for credentialed members of the news media. To register, please visit www.bio2007.org/Media. Reporters and editors working full-time for print or broadcast news organizations may register onsite with valid media credentials. All freelancers, college and online publications are strongly encouraged to register in advance by Friday, April 20, 2007.