Scientists in China have planned to clone the giant panda as a means of saving the extremely endangered species, according to a participating researcher. In this regard, the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences has granted us $12,000 to fund a project at its Institute of Zoology, said assistant researcher Duan Chongwen. The funds represent just an initial grant for 1998.
A team headed by researcher Chen Dayuan has already started working on the project. Chen had recently announced that his team has successfully bred panda body cells as part of foundation-building preliminary research. "We hope that we can obtain a (cloning) result within 10 years," he said. The researchers are preparing to set up an experimental model using more abundant test animals such as mice and rabbits.
Meanwhile, a section of scientific community in China has expressed dismay over the cloning plans of the panda, which is native only to China and is the Chinese national symbol. Pan Wenshi, a panda expert at Beijing University's biology department, has attacked the idea as potentially damaging to the species' already shrunken genetic pool.
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