Cloning overcomes prejudices

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Source: Business Standard 

Relevance: Use of technology for the betterment of agriculture


The development and popularisation of cloning technology can be a boon for the Indian livestock sector, which relies heavily on buffalo milk.

  • Dolly (a sheep) was the first cloned mammal created at the Roslin Institute in Scotland on July 5, 1996. Since then countless genetically exact copies of various animals have been generated around the world. 
  • But only a few countries have adopted cloning as a means of developing elite populations of commercially important livestock species. In this regard, India has performed well, especially in the case of buffaloes.   
India and Cloning Technology:
  • Workable indigenous cloning technology was developed in the late 2000s.
  • The first cloned buffalo calf was born at the Karnal-based National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) on February 6, 2009. It was named “Samrupa” (meaning lookalike) and died seven days after its birth due to a lung infection.
  • It had put the very technology in the dock, but only until the second cloned calf, called Garima, was born four months later on June 6, 2009. Furthermore, it survived and even produced healthy progeny. The country now excels in buffalo cloning.
  • For the first time in the world, seven cloned copies of an elite breeding buffalo bull (identified as M-29) and a re-cloned calf of an earlier cloned bull called Hissar-Gaurav were evolved last year. 
    • They were developed at the Hissar (Haryana) based Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB). 
    • All these eight clones were born from different foster mothers between October 2019 and January 2020. This institute has used these bulls to produce thousands of doses of semen.
Utility of Cloning for the livestock sector:
  • In India, livestock rather than crop farming forms the mainstay of the livelihood of small and marginal farmers and landless rural people.
  • The development and popularisation of cloning can be a boon for the Indian livestock sector, which relies heavily on buffalo milk.
  • At present, five cloned buffalo bulls are already being used for the production of semen to be used for artificial insemination. Further, 13 more would start doing this by December 2021.
    • The availability of an adequate number of duplicates of such bulls can facilitate a mass-scale genetic upgrade of buffaloes.  
  • The buffalo is getting preference over the cow also because it is a milch-cum-meat animal. 
    • It yields more milk and with a higher fat content than an average cow does. 
    • There are no legal bars or taboos concerning the disposal of aged animals.
    • Focusing on buffaloes would raise the production of both milk and meat, which has become a key export item.

Hence, the future of the Indian livestock sector lies truly in the promotion of well-bred buffaloes, apart from elite breeds of desi (indigenous) cows and crossbred animals.

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