An Argentine laboratory has claimed to have produced the world's first transgenic cow using human genes. The cow is expected to be capable of producing human-like milk better suited for human consumption, according to the Bangkok Post.
"The cloned cow, named Rosita ISA, is the first bovine born in the world that incorporates human genes that contain the proteins present in human milk," Argentina's National Institute of Agrobusiness Technology said in a statement.
If the idea of drinking human breast milk doesn't appeal to you, then the idea of drinking it from a bovine/human hybrid probably doesn't either, but the scientists who concocted Rosita are confident that her milk will be far more nutritious than regular cow's milk. At least, that was the goal of their research.
"Our goal was to raise the nutritional value of cows' milk by adding two human genes, the protein lactoferrin, which provides infants with anti-bacterial and anti-viral protection, and lysozyme, which is also an anti-bacterial agent," said researcher Adrian Mutto.
Although regular cow's milk has a much higher protein density than human milk, cow's milk is not naturally designed for human consumption (it's designed for the nutritional needs of a growing calf!). It therefore lacks the anti-microbials, hormones and digestive enzymes that are best for humans. Rosita's milk could offer the best of both human and cow milk in one product.
That product may arrive at your local supermarket sooner than you think. Just a few days ago, Chinese researchers also announced that they had created transgenic cows that produce human milk. In fact, China may already have a herd of transgenic cows that is 300 members strong — which, if true, would rival the Argentine claim that Rosita is the first of her kind.
But regardless of Rosita's status in history, it seems inevitable that bovine/human milk will become a real option for milk consumers soon enough. Chinese researchers claim to have tasted their product already.
"It's good," said worker Jiang Yao. "It's better for you because it's genetically modified."