Genetic Variation To Marketable Product, Faster Than You Can Say ‘Got Milk?’

Can we agree that the genetic engineering of our food supply is okay if it happens by accident? Probably not, but consider the following: six years ago, scientists with the biotech company ViaLactia discovered a gene that directs certain New Zealand cows to produce milk that’s low in saturated fat (1%, as opposed to the 3.5% in whole milk) and high in omega-3 fatty acids. Since then, the company has succeeded in breeding offspring with the same characteristics, and is going commercial with natural skim milk and extra-spreadable butter (omega-3 is supermaleable, what with its multiple double bonds twisting to and fro[zen yogurt, anyone?]) by 2011.

We’re not positive about this, but we don’t see any reason why the product couldn’t be marketed as organic. One does not need antibiotics, synthetic hormones or conventionally-grown feed to make these skinny cows; just a little bit of science-assisted selective breeding, an accelerated form of what farmers have been doing for thousands of years. The skinny cow aberration does not have the same sort of pernicious effects as, say, genetically modified seeds, which can destroy naturally occurring crops and need to be purchased yearly by growers. Nope, this is just some cows producing artisanal milk for the calorie conscious consumer. And so, we assign this project an 8 on the MP Scale of Food Ethics. Bottoms up!

Cows in New Zealand Produce Low - Fat Milk [NYTimes]

Skimmed milk gene found in NZ cow [FWI]

Low-fat milk, straight from the cow [ABC Online]

NZ cows produce own skimmed milk [BBCNews]

[Photo: Skinny Cow, Sam Yip]


Genetic Variation To Marketable Product, Faster Than You Can Say ‘Got Milk?’