by Timon Singh,

Scientists from the animal biotechnology centre of Sher-i-Kashmir University recently announced that they successfully cloned a female goat called Noori. Dwindling goat populations in the area have led to less wool production, hurting local industry, and it’s hoped that Noori, which means “light” in Arabic, will help repopulate the species. While we’re not really convinced that playing with nature in order to make more cashmere and pashmina is a great idea, the project is an interesting breakthrough that could also help a hurting animal population. The initiative was funded by World Bank and was jointly worked by SKAUST and Karnal-based National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI).

Kashmir’s goat herds have been getting smaller over the past few years, which has proven to be problematic for the local economy. You see, cashmere wool is a major source of income for  the region and generates $78 million per year for the disputed state. A simple shawl can cost up to $200 locally and that figure almost quadruples abroad, so with goat numbers decreasing, a solution had to be found.

Project leader Riaz Ahmad Shah and six other scientists took two years to clone Noori, using a relatively new ”handmade” cloning technique involving only a microscope and a steady hand.

“Noori has gained weight. From 1.3 kg at the time of birth on March 9, it’s 5 kg. She is healthy and was allowed to be part of more than two dozen pashmina goats assembled at Alastaingh laboratory for the purpose,” said fellow scientist Dr. Fazili.

So what do you think? Is it okay to clone animals to fix an ailing economy and a dwindling animal population? And how cute is Noori?!

(Source: )