Crop Biotech Update

GM Cows Produce "Human" Milk

April 15, 2011

Scientists from China Agricultural University have successfully introduced human genes into dairy cows to produce milk similar to human breast milk. Human milk is composed of vital nutrients to develop the immune system of infants and reduce attacks of unwanted microorganisms. Powdered milk has been used as a substitute for human breast milk but many scientists and consumers believe that its nutritional value is far from real breast milk. Thus, Ning Li and the rest of his research team used cloning technology to introduce human genes into the DNA of Holstein dairy cows and then implanted the GM embryos into surrogate cows.

The GM milk contains human proteins lysozyme and lactoferrin, which help in the immunity of infants during the early days of life. The third key protein in GM milk is alpha-lactalbumin, but this is also naturally present in cow's milk.

"Our study describes transgenic cattle whose milk offers the similar nutritional benefits as human milk. The modified bovine milk is a possible substitute for human milk. It fulfilled the conception of humanizing the bovine milk," said Professor Li.

Read more details of the study at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0017593.