Beijing-based pet cloning company Sinogene has successfully created the first cloned cat in China, reported. After a year-long effort, the clone of a British Shorthair named Garlic was born on July 21. 

Why it matters: Pet cloning is illegal in most countries, but with pet-related spending in China reaching RMB 170.8 billion (around $23.9 billion) in 2018, Sinogene CEO Mi Jidong believes the market has lucrative potential. 

  • Sinogene has cloned more than 40 pet dogs at RMB 380,000 a piece and charges RMB 250,000 for cats.
  • Some experts believe that this could pave the way for the cloning of pandas, which are notoriously challenging to breed in captivity. 

Details: According to Garlic’s owner, the clone and its original are “more than 90%” similar, but he has yet to discover whether their personalities are the same. 

  • According to The New York Times, Sinogene decided to clone a cat after conducting market research that showed cats are becoming increasingly popular in China. 
  • Garlic was cloned by implanting skin cells from the original cat into eggs harvested from other cats. 

Context: Genetics research in China is moving along at an impressive clip, but has attracted controversy.

  • Last November, scientist He Jiankui’s modification of two human embryos to create the world’s first genetically edited babies was met with alarm from the international scientific community. 
  • Bioethicists have also raised concerns about the country’s unregulated pet cloning industry, pointing to the unknown effects of mixing clone genes into the broader gene pool. 

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