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Clone offspring impregnates Swiss cows

300 Swiss cows have been inseminated with semen from "Revenge-ET". Select Star

For the first time in Switzerland, 300 cows have been inseminated with sperm from a bull whose mother was cloned.

This content was published on May 24, 2005 - 10:20

Although not illegal, the move has provoked criticism from the association of Swiss cattle breeders, which says it does not make sense.

Geneva-based Select Star - which specialises in artificial insemination - imported the semen from a Red Rubens bull living in the United States.

Markus Zemp, president of the Swiss cattle breeders’ association, told the farmers’ newspaper BauernZeitung that the aim of cattle breeders was to constantly improve stock. However, as clones were copies, cloning did not lead to an improvement in the stock and therefore made no sense.

Zemp also said that he feared the use of sperm from cloned cattle could harm the image of farming in Switzerland.

He called on breeders to make clear in the name given to the animal if it was the offspring of a clone.

One-off

Select Star said the case was a one-off and explained that the bull in question had been selected because of its exceptional qualities and not because one of its parents was a clone.

The company’s Urs Wichser said the use of sperm from the bull was an experiment.

It is expected to take four years to determine whether the calves have inherited the father’s star qualities.

The Federal Agriculture Office says the use of animal clones and their offspring in Switzerland is not illegal and therefore cannot be prevented. But it called on breeders to unilaterally eschew the practice.

Scientists in Scotland produced the first animal clone – Dolly the sheep – in 1996. No farm animals have ever been cloned in Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

In 1996 Scottish scientists succeeded in cloning an adult sheep - the first cloning of a mammal.
"Dolly" suffered premature ageing and had to be put down aged six.
Since that first success other animals, including pigs, cows, mice and goats have been successfully cloned.

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In brief

For the first time in Switzerland breeders are experimenting with the sperm of a bull whose mother was cloned.

But the Swiss cattle breeders' association is concerned that the use of cloned material could damage the image of Swiss farming.

The bull in question, "Revenge-ET", is from the Red Rubens breed.

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