GE Cow Brings Biotech to New Level of Creepy
November 06, 2012
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By Dr. Mercola
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
Is Milk (or Meat) From Cloned Animals Really the Same?
When animals are exposed to foreign DNA or created in a lab using experimental technologies, literally anything can happen. This became clear when Daisy was unexpectedly born without a tail (and who knows what else might be amiss that hasn’t yet been uncovered). Also mysterious, Dolly the sheep was cloned from a 6-year-old sheep, and she died at 6 years old, leading some to believe she had been genetically programmed to have a life expectancy of only six years (when sheep ordinarily live double that).
So cloned animals have some obvious, and some certainly not-so-obvious, differences from natural animals, which makes the idea that the milk or meat from these animals would be the same as that from natural sources a long shot.
Take, for instance, milk from cows treated with a synthetic, genetically engineered growth hormone called rBGH. The synthetic rBGH milk differs from natural milk nutritionally, pharmacologically, immunologically, and hormonally; along with causing health problems in the cows, it is linked to cancer in humans.
You might be surprised to learn that in 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a formal recommendation to allow milk and meat from cloned animals on grocery store shelves, without labels indicating them as such. Their most recent recommendation also gives the green light to cloned animals being used for food. They reported:3
“Based on a final risk assessment, a report written by FDA scientists and issued in January 2008, FDA has concluded that meat and milk from cow, pig, and goat clones and the offspring of any animal clones are as safe as food we eat every day.”
If you eat beef from conventional sources, there's a possibility you've already eaten this type of food, as some ranchers admit cloned cattle have made it into the food chain and, quite possibly, onto your dinner table. Even Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack couldn't say for sure whether cloned meat was already on the market when asked whether Americans are eating unlabeled clones right now.4
Other GM Animals Already in the Works
In 2009, the FDA approved the first drug produced by livestock that had been bioengineered to express a human gene. In that case, the protein was extracted from the milk of genetically engineered (GE) goats.
Earlier this year, researchers introduced DNA coding for the malaria parasite into the gene regions within the goat genome linked to milk production. The DNA is supposed to "switch on" only in the mammary gland when the goat produces milk. Current experiments being conducted by researchers from Texas A&M are geared toward producing an "edible" malaria vaccine, with the ultimate goal being that children drinking the milk will become vaccinated in the process.
As we've seen in the past with genetically modified plants, genetically engineered vaccine-producing animals might enter the food supply unexpectedly -- exposing unintended recipients to the vaccine. Or the animals might escape and breed with others, passing these bioengineered genes on with unpredictable consequences. What does ingesting the DNA from the malaria parasite in your milk cause? Or what might be the consequences of drinking milk from a cloned cow, engineered to contain lower amounts of a certain allergy-associated protein? No one knows.
What Are GMOs?
From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.
GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.
Help Support GMO Labeling
The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)—Monsanto’s Evil Twin—is pulling out all the stops to keep you in the dark about what’s in your food. For nearly two decades, Monsanto and corporate agribusiness have exercised near-dictatorial control over American agriculture. For example, Monsanto has made many claims that glyphosate in Roundup is harmless to animals and humans. However, recently the World Health Organization (WHO) had their research team test glyphosate and have labeled it a probable carcinogen.
Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.
The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.
Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.
Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More
Together, Let's Help OCA Get The Funding They Deserve
Let’s Help OCA get the funding it deserves. I have found very few organizations who are as effective and efficient as OCA. It’s a public interest organization dedicated to promoting health justice and sustainability. A central focus of the OCA is building a healthy, equitable, and sustainable system of food production and consumption. That's why I'm proud to announce I will be matching donations up to $250,000 this week.
Please make a donation to help OCA fight for GMO labeling.