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IPFS News Link • China

China Fully Automates Cloning Of Pigs


A surrogate sow allegedly birthed seven cloned piglets in March at the College of Artificial Intelligence at Nankai University in northern China's Tianjin city.

"Each step of the cloning process was automated, and no human operation was involved," Liu Yaowei, a member of the research team that developed the robotic cloning system, told reporters this week.

Removing humans from a previously developed cloning system helped streamline the process and improved the clones' success rate, according to Liu.

Nankai University had already claimed to clone pigs using robots in 2017, though the process used at the time included human contributions. The human involvement, the Chinese scientists claimed, correlated with a higher margin of error that Liu's team claimed to have successfully eliminated during its latest cloning experiment through improved algorithms. These algorithms, used by the scientists' AI system, allegedly instructed robots to perform actions more accurately than humans.

"Our AI-powered system can calculate the strain within a cell and direct the robot to use minimal force to complete the cloning process, which reduces the cell damage caused by human hands," Liu said this week.

Nankai University's cloning development, if true, is especially significant in China, which is the world's top consumer and producer of pork. The nation currently relies heavily on the import of breeding pigs to sustain its pork industry. A reliable technique for cloning pigs could provide a cheaper pork source for China's agriculture industry that would additionally benefit Chinese consumers.China's pork industry took a massive hit from 2018 to 2019 when a nationwide outbreak of the African swine fever virus decimated the nation's pig population and killed off much of its domestic breeding pool. Beijing has promoted an agricultural campaign in the years since then designed to wean Chinese pig farmers off of imported stock and encourage them to instead breed self-sustaining herds.

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