|In the mid
1980's the cattle cloning industry developed based on the
successful research of Danish scientist Steen Willadsen and a team lead by Neal
the University of Wisconsin. Both parties, working
individually, managed to clone farm animals from embryo cells. Willadsen, who cloned a
sheep in 1984, was hired
by biotechnology corporation Grenada Genetics of Houston, Texas, to use his
process to clone cattle embryos. First's research, funded
by cattle firm W.R. Grace and Company, led to the cloning
of a cow in 1986. W.R. Grace used the process to also
clone cattle embryos. Biotech companies Alta Genetics and
Genmark, Inc. also became players in the cattle cloning
Such interest was put into Willadsen and First's discoveries because of the high cost of top breed embryos in the $30 billion beef industry. Farmers at the time paid upwards of $1500 dollars per cattle embryo. A way to duplicate embryos on a large scale was looked upon as a way to earn a corporation great profits. Cloning was the perfect way to do so.
Despite the bright beginnings of the cattle cloning industry, it quickly crashed to the ground. The cost of cloning was higher than the corporations imagined. Grenada had problems with high death rates and freak cattle. In one case, a calf grew to a weight of 150 pounds while still in its mother's uterus, nearly twice the normal weight. In 1992, Grenada sold its operation to W.R. Grace and Co. Strong interest in cattle cloning did not resurface until recent years. Now the cloning of genetically altered cattle is looked upon as a way to manufacture large doses of human proteins, valuable in medicine and in medical research.