Cows Producing "Human Milk"

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Cows Producing "Human Milk"

[Ed. Note: Once again, because humans want to drink "milk" after their infancy, there are some "scientists" who have injected human genes into cows to produce "human milk from cows." And one more way to cause distress, disease and death to other-than-human animals. Good grief! ]

By Dr. Michael W. Fox
April 2011

However, according to Gray, during two experiments by the Chinese researchers, which resulted in 42 transgenic calves being born, just 26 of the animals survived after ten died shortly after birth, most with gastrointestinal disease, and a further six died within six months of birth.

But from any cultural or economically driven perspective, seeking to replicate in another mammalian species an analog of human milk has profound social, ethical and potentially adverse health consequences.

Reporter Richard Gray documented ‘Genetic modification of cows produce human milk’ (The Telegraph, 04/4/11) in China where a herd of 300 cows has been created by genetic engineers to produce ‘humanized’ milk with higher than normal levels of lysozyme, an antimicrobial protein, immune-cell boosting lactoferrin, and a third human milk protein alpha lactalbumin, along with higher levels of milk fat and solids content.

The researchers used cloning technology to introduce human genes into the DNA of Holstein dairy cows before the genetically modified embryos were implanted into surrogate cows.

However, according to Gray, during two experiments by the Chinese researchers, which resulted in 42 transgenic calves being born, just 26 of the animals survived after ten died shortly after birth, most with gastrointestinal disease, and a further six died within six months of birth.

With the funds to engage in this kind of capital-intensive genetic alteration of animals for future commercial purposes, China is on the leading edge of both animal and plant genome manipulation in a culture noted for its lack of oversight and regulatory enforcement especially with regard to consumer safety, environmental protection and animal health and welfare. In this instance, the ends do not justify the means unless we accept what amounts to genetic parasitism, since these kinds of genetic alteration and cloning technology being applied are an order of magnitude far beyond the normal, biological constraints of traditional selective breeding of farmed animals which are in themselves not without adverse animal health and welfare consequences.

But from any cultural or economically driven perspective, seeking to replicate in another mammalian species an analog of human milk has profound social, ethical and potentially adverse health consequences. There surely can be no substitute for the emotional bonding of natural human breast-feeding or for the essential nutrients, including regulatory hormones, essential fatty acids, and antibodies in the milk of a healthy, well nourished woman who ideally consumes organically certified foods and beverages and eats ‘low’ on the food chain during both pregnancy and the lactation period before weaning the child onto a similar healthful diet.


Dr. Michael W. Fox is a well-known veterinarian, former vice president of The Humane Society of the United States, former vice president of Humane Society International and the author of more than 40 adult and children’s books on animal care, animal behavior and bioethics. He is also a graduate veterinarian from the Royal Veterinary College, London, whose research lead to a PhD (Medicine) and a DSc (ethology/animal behavior) from the University of London, England.