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CHINA Worm turns sheep clone
to "good" fat: China scientists by Tan Ee Lyn (Hong Kong)
24-April-2012 Reuters View
HONG KONG (Reuters) - 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. a roundworm fat gene,
weighed in at 5.74 kg when it was born on March 26 in a
laboratory in China's far western region of Xinjiang.
"It's growing very well and is very healthy like a
normal sheep," lead scientist Du Yutao at the Beijing
Genomics Institute (BGI) in Shenzhen in southern China
Du and colleagues inserted the gene that is linked to the
production of polyunsaturated fatty acids into a donor cell
taken from the ear of a Chinese Merino sheep.
The cell was then inserted into an unfertilized egg and
implanted into the womb of a surrogate sheep.
"The gene was originally from the C. elegans (roundworm)
which has been shown (in previous studies) to increase unsaturated
fatty acids which is very good for human health," Du
China, which has to feed 22 percent of the world's population
but has only 7 percent of the world's arable land, has devoted
plenty of resources in recent years to increasing domestic
production of grains, meat and other food products.
But there are concerns about the safety of genetically
modified foods and it will be some years before meat from
such transgenic animals finds its way into Chinese food
"The Chinese government encourages transgenic projects
but we need to have better methods and results to prove
that transgenic plants and animals are harmless and safe
for consumption, that is crucial," Du said.
The United States is a world leader in producing GM crops.
Its Food and Drug Administration has already approved the
sale of food from clones and their offspring, saying the
products were indistinguishable from those of non-cloned
U.S. biotech firm AquaBounty's patented genetically modified
Atlantic salmon are widely billed as growing at double the
speed and could be approved by U.S. regulators as early
as this summer. (Editing by Paul Tait)
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