Opus Dei member, Gregorio Perez Companc, owns cloning firm Cyagra
El Cardinal, the Opus Dei devotee behind cloning firm
By Daniel Boffey
The biotechnology firm that created cloned cows for British farms is owned by the richest man in Argentina, known as El Cardinal because of his deep religious faith.
Gregorio Perez Companc, 75, a member of the ultra-orthodox Catholic group Opus Dei, bought American cloning firm Cyagra eight years ago, as it was perfecting its replication techniques.
Yet the company's activities and links to a firm that has cloned a human embryo appear to clash with Mr Companc's religious views. Opus Dei follows a strict Vatican line against embryo research in both humans and animals on the grounds that it is 'playing God'.
Despite Mr Companc's beliefs, Cyagra was at the forefront of a successful campaign in the US to legalise food from cloned animals.
In 2002, he purchased Cyagra from Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), the US firm at the centre of a row nine years ago after it boasted of being the first to clone a human embryo.
Cyagra has a licensing agreement with ACT that allows it to use ACT's human-cloning technology to breed animals. A spokesman for Mr Companc failed to comment.