Human Breast Milk Could Be in Supermarkets by 2014

Posted by Nona Willis Aronowitz

As we told you in March, Chinese scientists have figured out how to genetically modify dairy cows so they can produce human breast milk. Now there's a video explanation, a more definitive marketing plan, and 100 more cows roaming around. These cows were bred by inserting human genes into cloned cow embryos which were then implanted into surrogate cows.

The plan is to have this milk in supermarkets within three years (sped up from the original 10-year prediction), sold as a sweeter, stronger,  immune-boosting alternative to cows' milk.

"It's good," said worker Jiang Yao. "It's better for you because it's genetically modified."

Really?

"Why, why, why?" is my first reaction, and I'm not alone; China is well ahead of the Western world in terms of its comfort with genetically modified food. But let's think about this. Could consumers get past the Freudian weirdness of drinking breast milk in the name of nutrition? Or is this all provocative vaporware, designed to play off our existing fascinations? For now, I'm content to see how this will play out in another country.

UPDATE: Actually, calling the new product "human breast milk" is going a little overboard. "Cow's milk with some proteins found in human milk" is probably more accurate; Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing explains the scientific nuances.