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Company Claims To Have Cloned Bull
By ANDREW BLASKO
Associated Press Writer

DeFOREST, Wis. (AP) -- A company that specializes in bull semen for artificial insemination of cattle has further streamlined the reproductive process, cloning a Holstein bull calf.

ABS Global Inc. said the calf, named Gene, is the result of a new ``highly advanced'' technique, but refused to give details Wednesday. The process and 6-month-old Gene were to be unveiled today.

ABS spokesman Tom Gahm said the company plans to use its cloning process in pharmaceutical, milk and beef production.

Company officials said adult animal cells were not used to clone Gene, which makes him significantly different from Dolly, the sheep cloned last year by Scottish researchers. Dolly was produced from the udder cell of a 6-year-old ewe.

Many species -- including sheep, cattle, rabbits, monkeys and mice -- have been cloned from embryos, which are easier to clone than adult cells.

``In the particular case of Gene, it was not cloned from an adult bull. But the cloning technology that we have still allows us to have the capability of taking cells from adults,'' said Dale Schwartz, CEO of a new ABS subsidiary created to market the cloning technology.

Clones, produced without sexual reproduction, are exact genetic duplicates of another animal. Cloned cattle would be useful because they could be genetically manipulated to produce impressive amounts of milk or beef.

``It could result in fewer cows because many dairy farmers, if they can maintain their volume with fewer cows, will do that,'' said Richard Weiss, a spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation, a group of farmer-owned dairy cooperatives.

Cloning might also allow the insertion of genes that would cause a sheep or cow to produce drugs or other valuable substances in its milk.

U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said Wednesday they had not heard of the Wisconsin company's cloning effort.

University of Wisconsin-Madison ethicist Alta Charo said she is not surprised to hear that a private lab has cloned a calf.

``They're trying desperately to move this thing forward to where it can be commercialized,'' said Ms. Charo, a law professor who served on President Clinton's National Bioethics Advisory Committee.

ABS Global has $65 million in annual sales of bull semen and services such as artificial insemination. The company has customers in 70 countries.

It began its cloning program in 1987. The company is patenting its process, Schwartz said.

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