GM cows to please cheese-makers

NEW ZEALAND - Cows genetically modified to produce high-protein milk for the cheese industry have been created in New Zealand. It is the first time that cow's milk has been engineered to improve its quality, rather than to contain profitable pharmaceuticals.
calendar icon 22 December 2006
clock icon 1 minute read
The cows possess additional copies of genes for two proteins, beta and kappa casein. As a result, their milk contains between up to 20 per cent more beta-casein and twice the amount of kappa-casein as milk from ordinary cows.

This should allow cheese-makers to produce more cheese from the same volume of milk. The manufacturing process should also be quicker, due to the faster clotting times associated with the higher protein levels.

"Basically, cheese is casein," says Goötz Laible, who led the work at the Ruakura Research Centre in Hamilton. "An increase in casein would certainly be of great value to the dairy industry, because farmers are paid on the basis of how much casein is produced in the milk."

But others believe public opposition to eating food from GM animals could be even greater than that to GM crops, potentially keeping cheese made from the milk off the market.

"The rejection of genetically engineered food is very strong, in countries like China as well as the West. And if people don't want to eat it, no one will produce it - we've seen that clearly in Europe," says Vanessa Atkinson of Greenpeace Australia. It would be important to ensure that any GM animal ingredient would be labelled, she says.

Source: Truth about Trade & Technology
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