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Scientists develop genetically modified cows that produce 'human' breast milkBy Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:39 AM on 3rd April 2011
Scientists in China have created genetically modified cows that produce 'human' milk, it is reported today.
They have introduced human genes into dairy cows to produce milk similar to human breast milk, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph.
The researchers believe that milk from these herds of 300 cows can provide an alternative to human breast milk and formula milk for babies, which is often criticised as being an inferior substitute.
Researcher Professor Ning Li, director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at the China Agricultural University, said the milk would be as safe as milk from ordinary dairy cows.
He added: 'The milk tastes stronger than normal milk. Within ten years, people will be able to pick up these products at the supermarket.'
The rules on research into genetically modified food are more relaxed in China than in Europe, the newspaper reported.
Professor Li said the research showed that it was possible to 'humanise' cows.
'Our study describes transgenic cattle whose milk offers similar nutritional benefits as human milk,' he was quoted as saying.
The researchers reportedly used cloning technology to introduce human genes into the DNA of dairy cows before the genetically modified embryos were implanted into surrogate cows.
Researchers said they were able to create cows that produced milk containing a human protein called lysozyme, which helps to protect infants from bacterial infections during their early days of life.
They have also created cows that produce another protein from human milk called lactoferrin, which helps to boost the number of immune cells in babies.
But the development has raised concern among GM opponents.
GeneWatch UK director Helen Wallace told the newspaper: 'We have major concerns about this research.
'There are welfare issues with genetically modified animals as you get high numbers of stillbirths.
'There is a question about whether milk from these cows is going to be safe for humans and it is really hard to tell that unless you do large clinical trials like you would a drug, so there will be uncertainty about whether it could be harmful to some people.
'Ethically there are issues about mass producing animals this way.'
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