Thanks to one of the latest scientific discoveries, babies could soon drink a bottle of “human” milk produced from cows instead of being breastfed by their mothers. Once again scientists have been tinkering with genetic modification — researchers at the China Agricultural University bred 300 cattle with human genes so their milk contains the same beneficial and unique nutrients and fat content as breast milk. For moms unable or unwilling to breast feed, the scientists believe this new human milk from cows could offer an alternative to infant formula.Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
Not surprisingly these genetically modified human milk-producing cows are already under scrutiny and campaigners are questioning the milks safety. According to the Daily Mail, Patti Rundall of Baby Milk Action said, ‘We need to have rules in place to safeguard human health. There could be incredible risks with these products that we don’t know about. Cows’ milk is never going to be like breast milk. It’s never going to be a living product like breast milk. Breast milk is species specific – there is no element of risk.”
Not to mention the fact that many individuals are already choosing milk that comes from cows not treated with rBST, recombinant bovine growth hormone. So it’s hard to say whether or not milk buyers will agree that cows pumped with human genes will produce safe milk — safe enough for their babies — even if it does offer some of the same benefits of breast milk.
However, lead researcher Professor Ning Li, claims the new concoction is just as safe as regular cow’s milk. Saying, “Within ten years, people will be able to pick up these human-milk-like products at the supermarket.”
So what would make moms choose this genetically modified milk over a traditional carton of milk?
In this first experiment, researchers were able to genetically modify the cows to make different varietals of “human” milk, each containing a different breast milk benefit.
One contained Iysozyme, which is an antimicrobial protein found in breast milk that protects babies from infections. Another boasted benefits of lactoferrin, a immune system-boosting protein, and the breast milk protein alphalacaibumin. In addition, the researchers increased the milk’s fat content by one fifth, and changed the composition to make it as close to human breast milk as possible.
Even still, Li says the human-cow milk hybrid tastes stronger than normal milk. No word yet on whether babies would like the taste.