Thursday 22 March 2018

Scientists breed GM cows to produce 'human breast milk'

Simon Casewell in Beijing

Scientists in China have created genetically modified cows that produce "human" milk, it was revealed yesterday.

They have introduced human genes into dairy cows to produce milk similar to human breast milk.

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.

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, while tasting stronger than ordinary milk.

While the development has the potential to be of huge benefit, the work is likely to inflame opposition to GM foods.

The rules on research into genetically modified food are more relaxed in China than in Europe.

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 the 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.

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