Dairy Without The Cow? – 'Clean Milk'
A Meat and Dairy Industries Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Faunalytics.org
May 2020

“Clean milk” might be on the horizon sooner than later, further disrupting the dairy sector. This study looks at the ethical questions that might result from its emergence.

milk
Photo by Jagoda Kondratiuk on Unsplash

In the past couple of years, you may have heard of clean meat — also known as cultured meat, in-vitro meat, lab meat, and more. It’s an exciting new development in the meat industry, as it presents the opportunity to phase out animal farming while still allowing people to eat “real meat.” This article explores the ethics of clean milk, a product which is even more nascent in development and its awareness among the public.

Let’s look briefly at how clean milk is created. Through studying cow genes in a pre-existing library of sequenced DNA, researchers have identified the genes that produce casein and whey (the proteins in dairy products). They can then recreate those genes and add them to yeast. The yeast ferments sugars to create whey and casein, and can then be filtered out. Finally, plant-based fats and nutrients can be added.

The closest this process comes to a cow is in studying DNA. So, unlike clean meat (which, in some incarnations, currently uses Fetal Bovine Serum as a growth medium), clean milk does not involve using animal bodies. As such, clean milk is arguably vegan. (In fact, it seems that fewer animals are harmed than through plant-based milks, because some number of animals die when crops are harvested.) But it’s still worth thinking about the ethics here. Animal protectionists have raised concerns about clean milk, and whether it can ever be acceptable to consume cows’ milk. During this discussion, the author – who is in favor of clean milk – responds in three ways to their worries....

 

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