The phenomenon of breast-feeding is far from new. We’ve even had chefs craft cheeses and ice creams out of the human-milk product. So what’s next? Apparently there are scientists who are genetically modifying cows to produce milk with similar contents of breast milk!
Many mothers opt to breast-feed their babies, believing that the bonding benefits outweigh the uncomfortable and often painful routine. But what do women do when Mother Nature isn’t on their side; when they fail at manufacturing a sufficient amount of breast milk for their baby? When your baby isn’t receiving the needed amount of resources, you can’t really do anything but give up on the idea of breast-feeding, and resort to plan B: nutrient-filled formulas. Well, now mothers everywhere may have another option in the near future, plan C: human-like breast milk from genetically altered cows.
Research and development in China have pointed to promising results from dairy cows whose embryos were induced with human genes using cloning technologies. The result is genetically modified milk that contains identical nutritional components found in human breast milk. This hybrid milk product apparently tastes much stronger than regular milk, and its effects aren’t quite known yet, so it will most likely take a decade or longer to actually see this product on shelves.
This breakthrough is definitely a prospective replacement for breast milk; and hopefully will be a close, if not identical substitute! In our society, infant formulas are seen as second-best and nutritionally deficient in relation to breast milk. The modified cow milk will include proteins often found in breast milk, such as lysozyme, lactoferrin, and alpha-lactalbumin, which help to protect babies from getting bacterial infections while raising their immunity levels! Human breast-milk has the perfect proportions of nutrients (proteins, fats, vitamins, etc.) for ideal developmental conditions and now the hybrid cow milk can be produced with the same properties!
Animal rights activists as well as environmental groups are concerned about the widespread development of this potential breast-milk substitute. They claim that there are safety issues and that we don’t know enough about the side-effects. Additionally, the cow’s health is affected! We are deliberately experimenting with nature by altering cow’s genes to potentially gain a benefit for ourselves [the human race]. The ethical issues are immense as we don’t want to hurt cows, unnaturally mass produce them, genetically modify food, or test a potentially harmful product; especially on humans, furthermore, babies! Also, mothers may opt to feed babies breast milk via bottles even if they are capable of naturally breastfeeding. In effect, this can cause many cultural changes, and can possibly cause a weakening of the mother-infant bonding process.
Although there are many concerns regarding this new and exciting discovery, there are immense benefits to be gained. This will do away with mothers concerns who feel like failures for not being naturally able to breast feed while also eliminating the need to import breast milk from other women. Also, it’s not only babies that can benefit from the genetically altered milk! Children and fully grown adults can also benefit from the nutritionally rich milk, ultimately helping to boost the immune system.
Genetically modified milk isn’t far-fetched! Although it seems to have many questionable implications, it also seems quite beneficial, especially for mothers who wish to breastfeed but naturally cannot.