Monday, April 4, 2011


Straight from a Michael Chrichton novel, scientists in China are making transgenic human/cow chimeras. What the heck does that mean? A chimera in Greek mythology was a monster composed of parts of different animals. In the modern version, DNA from different species is combined to make a new creature of niether species. In this case, human DNA is inserted into cows to make an organism that has characteristics of both species. The goal is to make cows that produce human breast milk.

I can't begin to describe on how many levels this is just wrong (and I shouldn't need to). From a human rights standpoint this research is a violation of the dignity of the human person. From an animal cruelty standpoint, these animals are suffering (26 of the 43 animals created have died so far) and subject to various diseases and cancers because of messing around with their genetic makeup. While the goal of this research may sound good
The scientists behind the research believe milk from herds of genetically modified cows could provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.
the real reasons are more mercenary. The goal is not just to replace baby formula but to replace cow's milk in general.
“We aim to commercialize some research in this area in coming three years. For the “human-like milk”, 10 years or maybe more time will be required to finally pour this enhanced milk into the consumer’s cup.”

China is now leading the way in research on genetically modified food and the rules on the technology are more relaxed than those in place in Europe.
Aside from concerns of what effects this milk will have on humans, there is the risk of the genes "escaping" into the wild population, as has happened with genetically modified crops in the US.


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