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Genetically Modified Cows Now Producing Human Milk

Dairy cows – China

In China, scientists have genetically modified cows to produce milk with the same properties as human breast milk.

So far, human genes have been introduced into 200 cows to produce the milk.

The research scientists involved think that milk from genetically modified cows can provide the high quantities of nutrients found in human breast milk, and can provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies.

The research team has said it has the backing of a major biotech company and that products from the genetically modified cows could eventually be sold in supermarkets.

There is likely to be strong opposition to the move, from critics of genetic modification. Critics have already questioned the safety of the milk from genetically modified animals and impact on the health of the cattle.

Lead scientist for the research, Professor Ning Li, of the State Key Laboratory for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University, maintains that the genetically modified milk will be as safe for humans to drink as normal milk from cows. He said that within ten years, people will be able to pick up these products at a local supermarket.

The researchers used cloning technology to introduce human genes into the DNA of cows, and then the genetically modified embryos were implanted. Researchers said they succeeded in creating cows that produce milk containing the human protein called lysozyme, which is found in human breast milk, and has been found to protect babies from bacterial infections.

How do you feel about genetic modification of this kind? Are you for it or opposed to it, and why?

Image: Community dairy feeding center in China, CC licensed by ILRI

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