Photo: scpgt (flickr)
Researchers in China have created genetically modified cows that produce ‘human’-style milk, with high levels of some of the same nutrients found in breast milk.
Genetically Modified Cows Produce ‘Human’ Milk
A team of scientists from China Agricultural University and GeneProtein Biotechnology Company in Beijing cloned and modified 17 cows to produce milk with high levels of lysozyme, a protein found in breast milk but absent in cow’s milk. Lysozyme helps to protect infants from bacterial infections.
Additionally, they added other immunity-boosting proteins and upped the fat content so the milk is closer in composition to the human counterpart.
Their intention is to create a more viable substitute for infant formula, especially for mothers who cannot breastfeed. They assert that the milk is safe for human consumption but cannot yet be produced on a large scale.
The results of their study were recently published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLoS ONE.
Is It Really Worth It?
Of course, this research is of concern to anti-GMO advocates like Helen Wallace, director of the biotechnology monitoring group GeneWatch UK. She says there are worries about the ethics of producing cloned animals, which are statistically shown to have reproductive issues and high mortality rates. Additionally, there are serious concerns about whether this milk is really safe for humans to drink.
“It is really hard to tell that unless you do large clinical trials like you would a drug, so there will be uncertainty about whether it could be harmful to some people,” she adds.
- Genetically modified cows produce ‘human’ milk (The Daily Telegraph)