The Chinese scientist who shocked the world by claiming that he had created the first genetically edited babies is sequestered in a small university guesthouse in the southern city of Shenzhen, where he remains under guard by a dozen unidentified men.
The sighting of the scientist, He Jiankui, this week was the first since he appeared at a conference in Hong Kong in late November and defended his actions. For the past few weeks, rumors had swirled about whether Dr. He was under house arrest. His university and the Chinese government, which has put Dr. He under investigation, have been silent about his fate.
The story of these cloned plants goes years back, when the team started searching for the oldest and largest of the coast redwood species.
“Here were these monstrosities — stumps that were 30 to 35 foot in diameter. Nobody knew trees ever got that big … They were cut down in the 1870s or 1880s, and forgotten about,” he said.
Milarch says its important that they cloned these massive tree stumps specifically because it gives them the ability to study the genetics of those impressive trees.
“Redwoods are one of the fastest growing trees on Earth. They grow up to 10 feet a year. And they have a remarkable ability to store CO2 as a tree species and produce oxygen.”
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