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Should cows be producing human breast milk?
Scientists in China are engineering cows to produce human-like breast milk. Will that do a body good?
 
A herd of cows in China may be setting in motion a health craze of the future, as they have been engineered to produce human-like milk.
A herd of cows in China may be setting in motion a health craze of the future, as they have been engineered to produce human-like milk.
CC BY: Maciej Lewandowski

Scientists in China have reportedly created a herd of genetically modified cows that produce milk similar to human breast milk. They claim that the human-like cow's milk could be available in Chinese markets within two years. What exactly are they doing, and why? Here, a brief guide:

What have Chinese scientists done?
The scientists have successfully created a herd of more than 200 cows, genetically modified to make them "capable of producing milk that contains the characteristics of human milk," says Li Ning of the China Agricultural University, as quoted in the Times of India.

Why would they do that?
Human milk contains nutrients that help the immune and central nervous systems. Cow milk and goat milk lack such nutrients, but the genetically modified cows' milk would not. The goal is to make the "healthy protein contained in human milk... affordable for ordinary consumers," says Ning. He notes that in ancient China emperors and empresses drank human milk their whole lives, a luxury afforded only to them. 

How does it taste?
It's got some kick. The genetically modified milk "tastes stronger than normal milk," says Ning. Wow, I'm "at a loss for words" over the "overwhelming grossness" of this idea, says Matthew McDermott at Treehugger.

Is it safe?
We don't know yet, but we will soon. China's Ministry of Agriculture is engaged in a 22-month study of the genetically modified herd, to determine if its milk can safely be sold in stores.

Sources: Times of India, People's Daily Online, Treehugger

 

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