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Friday, June 10, 2011

Chinese GM Cows Make Human Breast Milk

Holly Williams, Beijing correspondent

Dairy cows

Chinese scientists say human breast milk produced by cows is more nutritious than normal milk. Picture: AFP


Chinese scientists have genetically modified dairy cows to produce human breast milk, and hope to be selling it in supermarkets within three years.



The milk produced by the transgenic cows is identical to the human variety and has the same immune-boosting and antibacterial qualities as breast milk, scientists at China's Agricultural University in Beijing say.

The transgenic herd of 300 was bred by inserting human genes into cloned cow embryos which were then implanted into surrogate cows.

The technology was similar to that used to produce Dolly the sheep.

The milk is still undergoing safety tests but with government permission it will be sold to consumers as a more nutritious dairy drink than cow's milk.

Workers at the university's dairy farm have already tasted the milk, and say it is sweeter and stronger than the usual bovine variety.

There are 1.5 billion people in the world who don't get enough to eat. 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.

Professor Li Ning, director of the research project

"It's good," said worker Jiang Yao. "It's better for you because it's genetically modified."

The scientists have also produced animals that are resistant to mad cow disease, as well as beef cattle that are genetically modified to produce more nutritious meat.

The director of the research project, Professor Li Ning, says Western concerns about the ethics of genetic modification are misplaced.

"There are 1.5 billion people in the world who don't get enough to eat," he said. "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."

In contrast to Europe, China has eagerly embraced genetically modified food.

GM cooking oil, papayas, tomatoes and potatoes are already widely available.

Insect-resistant rice and corn modified to help pigs absorb more nutrients were both recently approved by the government.

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