In a potential new step for genetically modified food, babies could someday drink human-like milk derived from herds of genetically modified dairy cows, which scientists say could supplement breast milk and replace baby formula.
Scientists have created 300 cows that produce milk with some of the properties of human breast milk, including lysozyme, which fights bacteria and improves infants' immune systems in their first few days of life.
Researchers in China introduced genes that express human lysozyme (also called HLZ) and other human proteins into Holstein cattle embryos, and implanted the embryos into surrogate cows. When the GM cows started lactating, their milk contained HLZ and two other proteins.
Using a new purification process, the researchers were apparently able to make the milk taste more human — they increased its fat content and changed the amounts of milk solids, according to the Telegraph.
Human breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs, but cow milk is not as readily digested or absorbed. Making cow milk more human could give dairy products a nutritional boost, according to Ning Li, director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University, and lead author of the study.
"Despite the benefits that HLZ provides to breast-fed infants, mothers do not always desire to lactate and sometimes situations prevent lactation; therefore, the development of alternate sources of HLZ would be beneficial to infant health," the authors write.
The researchers believe human milk from cows could be a better breast milk alternative than baby formula.
Ling and collaborators at the Beijing GenProtein Biotechnology Company took samples from regular cows and GM cows for six months, and found no significant differences in the amount of fat, protein, lactose, and milk solids in the two types of milk. The cows also looked and acted like regular, non-GM cows, they said.
The authors tested the protein expression at pasteurization temperatures, ensuring it would pass muster with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other authorities. They hope genetically modified dairy products could someday be sold in supermarkets.
"The modified bovine milk is a possible substitute for human milk," they wrote.
The study was published March 16 in the journal PLoS One.
Wow. First post, and I'm speechless.
Or a woman could breastfeed her own child, with her own milk. I've never understood the need for baby formula.
you are ignorant of medical issues requiring the use of formula or you would know of it's need, however, it is used too much by couples just wishing not to breast feed
The medical "need" for this is small compared to the amazingly large population that just doesn't want to.
Yates863, Some women have trouble producing the volume of milk needed (foster parents do not have any milk at all), other are on medication they do not want to pass on to their child. There are also issue with working mothers not being able to feed their child ever 4 hours. However, admittedly most that do not breast feed don't because they don't want to.
The bigger question here is "How much human DNA can you add to an animal and have it still be an animal?"
The cow will be an animal until it becomes a form of sentient life.
Great, now we'll be giving crazy amounts of growth hormones and other dangerous chemicals to our children at an even younger age, people will start hitting puberty at 8 or 9 instead of 11 or 12... of course compared to 100 years ago when milk was organic people hit puberty around 13... then of course there's the flouride in just about every can of infant formula in America... wake up people we are poisoning ourselves with chemicals and GM food...
QuantumLeaper; Cows are sentient life. You probably meant "sapient," the term that would refer to an entity's "personhood." Nevermind the fact that humans are still animals so no matter how human some other species is made, it will always be still be an "animal". Even if it become a person, cognitively.
Can I be the first to say, ew?
I won't be impressed until food companies can grow meat in a lab therefore there won't be a need to butcher animals.
They're already working on it. Scary, huh?
I would have probably died without baby formula as my mom was not able to produce enough milk for me
This is disgusting...they are growing cows with human genes...so if we slaughter these cows we will be cannibals.
\I totally agree with ender7718...GMO food will cause depopulation.