GE Cow Brings Biotech to New Level of Creepy
In 1996, Dolly the sheep was born. She was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell, a Scottish creation of science “born” to three mothers (one that provided the egg, the other the DNA, and a third that carried the cloned embryo until birth).
The cloning process itself is described as “inefficient” to this day, as most embryos develop abnormally and do not survive (Dolly was reportedly the only lamb to survive into adulthood out of 277 attempts).
But that didn’t stop New Zealand researchers from using the very same process to clone a genetically modified (GM) cow, named Daisy, that produces milk without an allergy-associated protein… milk that they are, presumably, hoping will one day grace breakfast tables across the United States and world.
Would You Drink GM Milk from a Cloned Cow?
Daisy’s milk was genetically engineered so it would not produce a whey protein in milk called beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), which is a common cause of milk allergy. The Guardian reported:1
“To make Daisy, scientists took a cow skin cell and genetically modified it to produce molecules that block the manufacture of BLG protein. The nucleus of this cell was then transferred into a cow egg that had its own nucleus removed… The reconstituted egg was grown in the lab until it formed what is called a blastocyst, a ball of around 100 cells, and then transplanted into the womb of a foster cow.
The cloning technique is not efficient. Of around 100 blastocysts the scientists implanted into cows, more than half of the pregnancies failed early on, and only one live calf, Daisy, was born.”
Already, unexpected results have cropped up. For one, while the genetic modification did reduce levels of BLG protein in the milk to undetectable levels, it more than doubled concentrations of caseins, other hard-to-digest milk proteins that are also linked to allergy. Daisy was also born without a tail, a mysterious defect that researchers believe is most likely related to the cloning process.
“Daisy was also mysteriously born without a tail — which, along with being the canary in the mine that she could have other, yet-unnoticed genetic mutations, is just plain creepy… just because we are able to do carry out a scientific feat doesn’t mean we should do so haphazardly. If you’re allergic to BLG, couldn’t you just drink one of the amazing and delicious non-dairy milks available… ?” wrote Jenna Blumenfeld for the New Hope 360 Blog.2