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HPPR Economy and Enterprise

West Texas A&M beef cloning moving ahead


A cloning project at West Texas A&M University is poised to enter the next phase of creating cattle that will produce top quality beef recently reported the Amarillo Globe-News.

The goal of the undertaking is increase the amount of prime beef, the best quality category, and yield grade one, the largest amount of lean, boneless beef.

There isn’t any genetic engineering involved.  A twin is created of an animal that produced a remarkable carcass.  That’s one of the big differences in the process.  Instead of assessing live cattle for cloning, specimens are chosen by what’s under the hide: optimal size, tenderness of youth, a slight fat cover, and extensive small veins of fat knows as marbling.

Gregg Veneklasen, a Randall County veterinarian, is a collaborator on the venture.  Veneklasen and cattleman Jason Abraham cloned a bull and three heifers from samples of beef taken from commercial slaughter houses around the country.

“Only one bull and three heifers were good enough out of 15,000 carcasses they looked at,” Veneklasen said. “But that will be enough.” 

The next step is to multiply the number of cattle using this gene pool to see if the desired traits are reproduced reliably.  This will be done using the four clones. 

“We’re getting close,” said Don Topliff, dean of WT’s College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering. “The bull has reached puberty. We’re collecting semen from him. The heifers will reach puberty in the next couple months. Then we’ll inseminate them to create embryos to put in recipient cows.”

The FDA says the meat is safe. 

“Based on a final risk assessment, a report written by FDA scientists and issued in January 2008, FDA has concluded that meat and milk from cow, pig and goat clones and the offspring of any animal clones are as safe as food we eat every day,” according to the agency’s website.

Veneklasen and Abraham sued the American Quarter Horse Association in 2013 because the association would not register cloned horses.  A judge ruled that the association’s barring of cloned horses went against federal anti-trust laws.