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Pirates target prized wagyu beef genes

Osaka man's attempt to take 100 zygote and sperm samples to China raises alarm

Most wagyu breeding is carried out through artificial insemination, as a cow's pedigree figures heavily into the quality of beef. (Photo by Tatsuya Inoue)

OSAKA -- Genetic material for wagyu beef, a Japanese delicacy and key export, was almost smuggled overseas in a recent incident, a close call that has spurred Japan to guard its cattle and their reproductive cells more tightly to keep copycats from breeding them.

Tokyo is alerting customs authorities and airline officials to keep precious wagyu genes from leaving the country, wary of a major blow to its livestock industry.

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