According to China Daily, Li Ning, a scientist from the Chinese Academy of Engineering and director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at China Agricultural University, claims Chinese scientists have created a herd of more than 200 genetically modified cows that will produce an artificial form of human milk.
Ning, an expert in biotechnology, predicts genetically modified dairy products similar to human milk will appear on the Chinese market in two years.
The Ministry of Agriculture has allotted a scientific team 22-months to test the GM technology in laboratories; the ministry will then evaluate the results of the tests before deciding whether to allow the milk to be sold.
China’s chief expert with the Ministry of Environmental Protection said the government will carry out a series of tests on the transferred gene and the method of transplanting it before the genetically modified cows and their milk are declared safe.
Ning explains that until now, the scientific world had not found a way to mass-produce components exclusive only in human milk that can help improve the immune systems and the central nervous systems of children. The components are not available in milk produced by goats or cows, says Ning.
The GM milk will be as safe to drink as that of the ordinary cows, he added, claiming the technology will ensure healthy protein contained in human milk is affordable for ordinary consumers.
“The milk tastes stronger than normal milk,” Ning said. “Within 10 years, people will be able to pick up these human-milk-like products at the supermarket.”
Writing for Planetsave, Chris Milton noted how an award winning Indian journalist, Devinder Sharma, covering international food policy, was stupefied. “Why? Where’s the need?”
“I understand the nutritional benefits of breast milk for babies — and even more so for children in impoverished nations who need complete and complex nutrition that isn’t available in local diet,” says Brigid Darragh, with Green Chip Stocks. “But to genetically modify an animal to produce a product that is not of its own species? I, for one, won’t be downing a frosty glass of GM-cow-people-milk anytime soon.”
“In ancient China, only the emperor and the empress could drink human milk throughout their lives, which was believed to be the height of opulence,” said Ning, the Chinese scientist. “Why not make that kind of milk more available for ordinary people?”
Adults humans are clearly not meant to consume human milk or we’d all still be breastfeeding. And as Brigid Darragh points out, do we really want children drinking milk from an animal genetically modified to produce a product that is not of its own species?
Paul Kingsnorth, a prominent UK writer and green campaigner wonders — as I do — “At what point do [scientists] humans just…stop this crap?”