New Zealand scientists have developed a cow that has been genetically modified and produces milk which seems to cause less allergic reactions. Almost 3% of newly born children are proven to be allergic to cow’s milk.
Cow's milk contains beta-lactoglobulin which is not found in woman's breast milk. The research undertaken by University Waikato and AgResearch says,
"It is not surprising that it constitutes a major milk allergen".
DNA in a cow contains the instructions for the making of beta-lactoglobulin. Scientists included more genetic material to interrupt the manufacturing process of beta-lactoglobulin known as RNA interference. The calf born after this interference did not have a tail.
Scientists pumped hormones into the calf's body for quick milk production. In a journal, 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences' scientists noted
"All milk samples from the transgenic calf were devoid of any detectable beta-lactoglobulin".
Prof keith Campbell who was a team member which cloned the sheep Dolly, opines that the real assessment is to see up to what duration the genetic modification will remain. He says that the scientists should prove that the effect will be retained in the lifetime of the cow and it should also be passed on to the next generations.
The scientists say that this method is "an efficient tool" to improvise livestock. Bruce Whitelaw who works as a professor of animal biotechnology in the University of Edinburgh feels that it is a remarkable success for RNA interference in mammals.
Peter Riley of GM Freeze says,
"Before this goes any further, they need to establish what the cause of the defect in the calf was, as there is a possible link to the GM approach".
He feels that more research should be conducted in understanding the functioning of genes and added:
"We can learn a lot by looking at less complicated organisms than cattle".