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Human breast milk produced by genetically modified cows


June 8, 2011

Scientists have successfully obtained human breast milk from genetically altered cattle (Photo: Roger Cornfoot)

Scientists have successfully obtained human breast milk from genetically altered cattle (Photo: Roger Cornfoot)

According to a recent report on Sky News, Chinese scientists have created a herd of 300 transgenic dairy cattle, all of which have been genetically modified to produce human breast milk. While the milk is still undergoing government testing, the researchers reportedly hope to be selling it in supermarkets within three years.

The cattle were created at China's Agricultural University, in Beijing. Human breast milk genes were inserted into cloned cow embryos, which were in turn implanted into surrogate cows.

The milk is claimed to taste stronger and sweeter than cow milk, and to have better antibacterial and immune-boosting qualities. It could be marketed as a more nutritious alternative for consumers.

While many of us might find the thought of such genetic alterations to be unsettling, particularly when they involve food products, the scientists involved in the study apparently aren't overly concerned. "There are 1.5 billion people in the world who don't get enough to eat," project director Prof. Li Ning was quoted as saying. "It's our duty to develop science and technology, not to hold it back. We need to feed people first, before we consider ideals and convictions."

China's Agricultural University has also produced cattle that are resistant to mad cow disease, and that produce more nutritious meat.

Source: Sky News

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

\"You promised me dog or higher!\" :) If they tried to sell it in supermarkets as \"Human breast milk from a cow\" I think I\'d be a little put off. But if it was call \"SuperMilk (tm)\" I might be more interested.


I am fine with GM but this is creepy

Michael Mantion

Yep, this is wrong on so many levels, aside from the usual dairy industry evilness (cows make milk because they have been pregnant, not because we ask them nicely, basically, they are made pregnant, they give birth and then the calves are killed at or before 5 days old so that humans can have the milk meant for them, how sick is that). Don\'t believe dairy is bad? Google it, there\'s heaps of info out there...

Mr T

Yes I am sure the cows are thrilled, as is the species.

Mr Stiffy


Patrick Coffey

Having a child who had to be NICU raised and seen how many mothers can not provide their own milk as well as the research showing how formula, which is cow milk based, fed babies have so many developmental delays etc this could could offer a huge benefit. As to feeding grown people this would deal with lactose intolerance.... so as creepy as it sounds I\'m for it.


Now I\'m going to have nightmares of genetically engineered Chinese cows luring my 5-month-old nephew and other children off like the pied piper!


Virtual it is possible to have women as wet nurses, they used them until recently. Its not ideal but its better then this.

Michael Mantion

Mr T--- Would you prefer hormonal manipulation, rather than producing veal?

I do not eat food products for totalitarian countries, if I can avoid it.

I also question the safety of genetic modification using current techniques, even from the first world. Lets keep the cows isolated for a few generations before we start human consumption of the milk, or meat.

For the time being wet nurses sound like a much better idea.


Mmmmmm, got any oreos?


Patric Coffey overlooks humanity\'s penchant for expanding consumtion to use whatever resources are available and this will likely be the case with genetically engineered cows giving breast milk. It won\'t only be existing children that consume it - more and more children are likely to be born to fill, and test, the availability. It\'s an unfortunate truth but large sections of humanity are always going to have substandard food resources. Humans are competitive and some will lose out. We just have to make sure that large chunks of humanity don\'t lose out too badly.

I guess the countries most likely to embrace this technology (if they can afford it) are the ones with starving people (and a caring government - is that likely?!). But the resources may get diverted to legions of affluent women who would then be able to keep their pert boobs with a clear conscience by bottlefeeding breast milk. Or does the cow derived stuff have all the antibodies that are normally passed on via the breast?


During the same year in other part of the world... Argentinean get a cow to produce something similar http://intainforma.inta.gov.ar/?p=11838

Juan Dalmasso
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