Sunday, 20 May 2012

Genetically modified milk

Student number: 42813237
(Sources: Emily 2012)

Through the advances in genetics, in the year 2011, researchers found that genetically modified cows produces milk which have similar composition to human breast milk. This genetically modified (GM) milk are discovered by Prof Ning Li, the director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at China Agricultural University.[1] Prof Li believes that GM milk will marketed in the future.
Transgenic cows produce certain important proteins in its milk which are similar to human breast milk, such as alpha-lactoalbumin, lysozyme and lactoferrin. Alpha-lactoalbumin is a protein which helps in synthesizing milk sugar glucose, lysozyme is an antimicrobial protein that protects babies from infectious disease during early life and lactoferrin helps in development of immune system.[1]
According to Public Library of Science One Journal, cloning technology is used to introduce human genes into Holstein dairy cows DNA before the GM embryos implanted in surrogate cow.[2] This technology used is the same as producing the sheep, Dolly. Scientist had injected human breast milk genes such as human lysozymes and proteins to 300 cattle to make their milk properties and content similar to that of human milk.[3] Researchers has increase 20% of fat content and change the solids level of milk through purification process to make its composition and taste similar to breast milk.[3]
The transgenic cows are physically identical to those ordinary cows.[2] Prof Li and his team claims that GM milk can be drink safely like normal cow’s milk but the taste are more likely to be stronger.[1] They successfully produced three generations of GM cows which produces milk with higher nutritional content and is a healthy alternative to formula milk.[2]
The advantage of GM milk is that it can help mothers who cannot breastfeed their babies and mothers who do not want to use formula milk. Researchers found that having antimicrobial proteins in cows help cows in reducing risk of udder infection.[2]
The disadvantages of cow’s milk are it is much difficult to digest and absorb compared to human milk as it has lesser amount of fats and carbohydrates.[1] Besides, creation of GM cattle is bad for animal health and welfare as there is an increase death of GM calves with most with gastrointestinal disease, by the Chinese and spokesman for Royal Society for the Protection of Animals.[2]
            Although cows can produce human-like milk, yet human milk contain higher amount of important nutrients which is beneficial to babies’ health and immune system development.GM foods promote various benefits for consumers if it is done correctly.[1]

1.      Derbyshire.D, 2011, Scientist develop genetically modified cows that produce ‘human’ breast milk, Associated Newspaper Ltd., viewed 15 March 2012   <>
2.      Gray.R, 2011, Genetically modified cows produce ‘human’ milk, viewed 15 March 2012 <>
3.      Braconnier.D, 2011, Genetically modified cows may one day produce human breast milk, viewed 15 March 2012 <>
4.      Emily, 2012, ’Texting cow’ technology could be boost for farmers, viewed 15 March 2012 <>

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