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Peng Peng the sheep heralds new era of cloning

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 01:45

April 25 - Chinese scientists have cloned a genetically modified sheep containing a ''good'' type of fat found naturally in nuts, seeds, fish and leafy greens that helps reduce the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Named ''Peng Peng'', the sheep was born in western China late last month. He's the first to have been produced by a simplfied technique called handmade cloning. Rob Muir reports.

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Peng Peng is no ordinary sheep. Not only is he a clone, but his cells contain a fatty acid producing gene taken from a roundworm. Fatty acids are known to be good for the human heart, making Peng Peng a theoretically healthier animal for human consumption. SOUNDBITE: DU YUTAO - PROJECT LEADER, BGI ARK BIOTECHNOLOGY SAYING: "We put this gene, actually, into the somatic cell of a Merino sheep, and then we use this transgenic somatic cell as a donor cell for handmade cloning." Du Yutao is one of the scientists who created Peng Peng in far Western China. She says handmade cloning is an emerging technique with great potential. It's less expensive than conventional cloning and can be performed in the field without the need for sophisticated equipment. Du acknowledges ethical and safety concerns about making genetically engineered foods available for public consumption. But China, which has limited resources with which to feed 22 percent of the world's population, is aggressively pursuing the kind of research that produced Peng Peng, nonetheless. SOUNDBITE: DU YUTAO - PROJECT LEADER, BGI ARK BIOTECHNOLOGY SAYING: "Actually Chinese government are quite encouraging the transgenic project in China. Of course we need to have better method, better results, to prove that this transgenic adult plants or animals are harmless and safe and good for consumption. I think that's very crucial." Peng Peng is the first sheep produced by the handmade cloning technique. And despite the concerns of critics, he probably won't be the last. Rob Muir, Reuters.

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Peng Peng the sheep heralds new era of cloning

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 - 01:45

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