China GM cows produce 'human milk'
Published 03/04/2011 | 00:12
Scientists in China have created genetically modified cows that produce "human" milk, it has been reported.
They have introduced human genes into dairy cows to produce milk similar to human breast milk, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph.
The researchers believe that milk from these herds of 300 cows can provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.
British scientists said the development had the potential to be of huge benefit, but the work is likely to inflame opposition to GM foods, said the newspaper, which was familiar with the research in journal Public Library of Science One.
Researcher Professor Ning Li, director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University, said the milk would be as safe as milk from ordinary dairy cows.
He added: "The milk tastes stronger than normal milk. Within 10 years, people will be able to pick up these products at the supermarket."
The rules on research into genetically modified food are more relaxed in China than in Europe, the newspaper reported.
The researchers reportedly used cloning technology to introduce human genes into the DNA of dairy cows before the genetically modified embryos were implanted into surrogate cows.
Researchers said they were able to create cows that produced milk containing a human protein called lysozyme, which helps to protect infants from bacterial infections during their early days of life.
They have also created cows that produce another protein from human milk called lactoferrin, which helps to boost the number of immune cells in babies.