The genetically engineered cow (“Daisy”) was born in New Zealand with the aim that she would eventually produce milk containing less allergenic proteins. This was achieved by intervention in gene regulation causing the activity of natural genes to be blocked.
What is the problem?
According to a report, until 2014, there were hundreds of attempts to genetically engineer a cow that would produce hypo-allergenic milk. Most of the animals in these experiments were either born with genetic defects, were still-born, or had to be killed because they were diseased, or the genetic modification was not as expected. Then one single genetically modified calf was born, which was eventually able to produce milk with less allergy-releasing proteins. “Daisy” was, however, not free of genetic defects: because of unexpected side effects she has no tail and her organs show abnormal changes. And the milk it produces is greatly altered in its composition. The New Zealand experts involved in engineering this cow say that the milk maybe suitable for the production of cheese.
There are currently several ongoing projects aiming to genetically engineer cows so that they produce specific kinds of milk. All these trials involve considerable problems for animal welfare; and it is difficult to estimate risks for consumers.
More and more animals will be created with new methods of genetic engineering i.e. gene editing in the near future. They are intended to be used in agriculture and for food production. At the same time, these animals will give rise to new risks for consumers, ethical issues and new dependencies on agriculture. This type of animal breeding, undertaken in the interests of companies that want to sell their patented animals, means that not only will the existence of farmers and traditional breeders be under threat, but also that there will be an expansion of industrial mass production.