BY SAMANTHA MCCLENDON
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN
You're watching multisource science news analysis from Newsy
First there was human breast milk cheese, then breast milk ice cream -- now, human breast milk from a cow? Hmm. Scientists in China say they’ve combined human genes with 2-300 cows and now those cows produce milk that has the same properties as milk straight from a mother’s breast.
A CNN anchor thinks this could help malnourished children.
“It’s amazing if they can do this. I mean especially in parts of the world where nutrition is so key for the young kids and the babies. But will people do it? We talked about genetically modified salmon and people said ‘Oh God. There’s no way I would eat that.’ We’ll see if this will take.”
The Telegraph talked with one of the researchers who says they were able to make cows that create milk with the human proteins lysozyme (LIE-so-zome) and lactoferrin (lack-toe-fair-in) -- which boost the immune system.
“The scientists also revealed at an exhibition at the China Agricultural University that they have boosted milk fat content by around 20 per cent and have also changed the levels of milk solids, making it closer to the composition of human milk as well as having the same immune-boosting properties.”
But some people are skeptical about the new dairy product. CBS’s The Daily Buzz makes light of genetically modified food.
“It sounds to me like there’s going to be some unintended scientific nightmare that become reality. For instance a girl that is fed this milk could actually for real be what you always call a heffa.
“She could be a heffa.”
“A half heffa, half human. Heffa please.”
But all jokes aside, The Daily Mail points out there are health concerns. It quotes Patti Rundall of Baby Milk Action who says...
“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 [human] breast milk.”
Some are concerned with the safety of the cows themselves. Gothamist says there is a battle to get the product in stores because many groups argue there are ethical problems with mass-producing the cows. It quotes the director of a biotechnology monitoring group who says...
"We have major concerns about this research to genetically modify cows with human genes. There are major welfare issues with genetically modified animals as you get high numbers of still births...”
The World Health Organization recommends mothers breastfeed their babies the first six months of life - but in 2008 - Reuters reported only 51 percent of Chinese babies were being exclusively breast-fed.
A writer for Good reminds readers about the 2008 scare where 300,000 babies in China got sick from tainted baby milk.
“Still, in a country where up to 90 percent of adults are lactose intolerant, genetically modifying cows to produce human breast milk seems like an unnecessarily complicated solution to a problem that could instead be tackled through greater support for and awareness of the benefits of breast-feeding itself...”
According to The Telegraph, the scientist that led the research says this milk tastes stronger than normal milk and the researchers plan on making the milk commercially available in 10 years.
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