China to create alternative to human breast milk
Beijing: China will soon create dairy products from milk produced by genetically modified cattle and containing most of the nutrients as in human breast milk.
The ministry of agriculture has given the go-ahead to test the "human-like" milk, which will be available in the Chinese market in two years, said Li Ning, a researcher at the State Key Laboratories for Agro-biotechnology at China Agricultural University.
The milk, which cows produced after researchers tweaked their genetic codes, is rich in lactalbumin, lactoferrin, and lysozume - proteins that are found in human breast milk, according to Xinhua.
"Such proteins can be easily absorbed by the human body and can boost the immune system, which is why breastfeeding is always better than using bovine milk and infant formula," said Li.
Though not yet a perfect substitute for breast milk, as it lacks some antibodies and a protein that helps boost babies` intelligence, the milk had a potential for great marketing.
"The milk pumped out by our cattle will be a cheap source for such rare proteins, which are precious components hailed by the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and food industries," said Li.
Though genetic engineering has been a rising technology, studied by pharmaceutical and biological industries and widely used to mass-produce vaccines and drugs like insulin, food production is yet to gain international recognition.
Similar concerns are present in the Chinese market, as consumers complain about lack of available information about the potential hazards of such food.
"I think the scientists are doing a good thing (by developing genetically-modified milk) as it may help mothers who are unable to breast feed, but I, myself, won`t drink such milk just because it contains more nutrients," said a consumer named Tan.
Li Ning said they have highlighted the safety issue in their work, and that no research has yet indicated that such food was detrimental to human health.
The modified milk has reportedly passed the safety test of the Chinese Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, which said the milk "proved more healthy than the conventional one".