ProLinia Inc. and the University of Georgia have teamed up to produce three healthy, cloned piglets from skin cells from a commercial hog.

"This accomplishment and the methods used can be a benchmark to move forward developments in hog cloning efficiencies," says Steven Stice, professor and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in the school’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He is also chief scientific officer at ProLinia Inc.

The firm has licensed technology from Geron Corp., the company that owns the technology used to clone Dolly, the sheep. This is the first time ProLinia has cloned hogs.

"Cloning technology promises to provide significant improvements once commercialized within the hog and cattle industries," says Mike Wanner, president of ProLinia. Some industry experts estimate pig cloning will save $5-15/pig while providing consumers a consistent, superior product.

Smithfield Foods has an agreement with ProLinia to implement cloning on a large-scale hog operation. The pact is non-binding, meaning that ProLinia is free to pursue commercialization with other large-scale producers.