With the increasing population and demand for a more efficient way to achieve sufficiency, the biochemical world is shifting from artificial insemination and embryo transplant to a new frontier: cloning. Cloning is the process of biologically producing genetically identical organisms. Every bit of a clone’s DNA is identical to its donor. Cloning is put into practice to propagate the desired traits of animals that are challenging to capture through natural breeding techniques.
Techniques for cloning and manipulating gene sequences began in the 1970s, done by biotechnological procedures, such as artificial insemination or embryo transfer. The most common technique of cloning is the microinjection of DNA into the pronuclei of a recently fertilized ova. This creates the opportunity to alter or remove specific genes. Gene constructs, genetic material containing the information for transfection, are designed to express directly or indirectly various growth factors and alter body composition: the largest class of transgenes transferred into livestock. Majority of gene constructs include growth hormones (GH), though other constructs based on GH release insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Experiments have produced positive effects on growth and body without abnormalities.
With the continuous growth and improvements in the cloning world, the production of transgenic animals has a growing potential to reach a level of efficiency above pronuclear microinjection. By the year of 2525, the act of cloning could be established as its own independent industry that has the ability to be practiced by cooperative businesses similar to the industry of artificial insemination. Cloning animals is beginning to have a large impact in rapidly producing food for human consumption. Farmers are starting to experiment with cloning, especially with dairy farms. If these farmers own a cow that is able to produce 30,000 pounds of milk and clone her, they should automatically know what the production amount is going to be. These farms have quickly begun to produce milk by the gallons that we could very possibly even see in our local grocery stores by next year if we are lucky, but that is not the only contribution cloning will be able to do.
Cloning could also have a large impact on organ farms. Farmers should soon have the ability to help raise animals that have been cloned in order to contribute to the transplantation of organs to humans. If a farmer has an excellent, strong, well-built cow, then they will have an opportunity to possibly reproduce or save those valuable traits to later raise a strong relative. Technology is soon going to be able to catch up to many of these ideas to boost the agriculture industry as well as being able to make a large contribution to the medical field and possibly several others.
The cloning process is still currently being studied and tested. Scientists are working rapidly to be able to give all farmers the option to clone. Studies of the success rate are currently running from 3 to 5%, with the other few being born with slight abnormalities such as being obese. Dolly,a sheep who was the first animal clone to be born, had this abnormality with a cause that is still not known by scientists. Although the success rate is still on the rise, with scientists learning something new with each test and study. Once the successful cloning rate reaches a success rate of 30-40% it will be in easy reach of any average farmer. Cloning is so cool!
Written by: Emily Olson, Rachel Burton, Michelle Lovering, Taryn Tretick