China was the first to foray into genetically modified human gene-enhanced cow’s milk, but now scientists in Argentina have claimed to create a superior human-milk-like cow’s milk. The process included the introduction of human genes into a calf, which were then cloned to produce a new embryo. The cloned calf, named Rosa-Isa, was born in April, and can produce a nutrient-rich milk that is high in iron, has anti-bacterial properties and is closer to human breast milk than regular cow’s milk – and of course the closer to human milk than cow’s milk the more nutritious and healthy for little humans to consume. But we have to ask, does all of this fiddling with nature seem safe?
- [/caption]The cloned embryo, which was carried to term by a surrogate cow, was synthesized by a team of scientists from several institutions – the Institute for Biotechnology Research, the National Institute for Agricultural Biotechnology and the National University of San Martin. The baby friendly milk that Rosa-Isa produces comes thanks to two key proteins that were present in the initial human genes, one of which was derived from human breast milk.
Mothers may be concerned about feeding their children genetically modified and produced milk, but a representative of the project, German Kaiser, claims that there should be no concern. The proteins are identical to those in human milk, so he says they are just as healthy as human breast milk. Genetic modification of food is common in Argentina’s agriculture, and experiments in enhancing animal milk are also being performed in other parts of world, like the transgendered goats being genetically engineered in New Zealand. Still, we can’t help but be wary.
With its enhanced claims, the synthesized milk could be ideal for mothers who cannot breast feed, but mothers are still hesitant, according to our past poll. If the synthesized milk does gain popular acceptance, the scientists could engineer different varietals for specific needs, like added insulin or other enhancers.
Images © Wikimedia Commons and © Pfly