Genetically Modified…Cows?


GMO milk for babies?

While Europe generally legislates against genetically modified foods, China has a more relaxed stance, from which comes genetically modified cows.

There are now cows that have been genetically modified with human DNA (added during cloning, a process which itself has limited success and many unknowns) to produce human breast milk components. The idea is the genetically modified cows will be able to provide a substitute for babies who are without breast milk, and provide a more nutritious milk for adults.

The main additions to the cow’s milk are lysozyme and lactoferrin, which both play an important role with the immune system (they also have antimicrobial properties).

Traditionally, infants don’t just receive immune supporting enzymes from their mothers but immune protection from diseases the mother has encountered, as well as nutrition, fat, and other necessities. Concerns about genetic modification aside, the milk produced would not be a perfect substitute.

Other concerns focus not just on the unknown risks of genetically modified cows (what are other side-effects to adding human DNA to the mix? Less than half of the cloned cows survived birth, which speaks to the challenges of cloning as well to the lack of data on GMO and cloning), but to the lack of trials based on genetically modified “human” breast milk.

Some are advocating that genetically modified or engineered foods should be subject to the same testing as drugs, which is not only expensive, but can take decades. While this may create a barrier for many genetically modified foods, the bigger companies (who are already known to skew data) wouldn’t be as affected.

How do you feel about this new step for genetically modified foods?


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