Allergen-free milk

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Free New Zealand is strongly opposing AgResearch’s use of genetic modification in pursuit of allergen-free milk for children. 

Crown research institute AgResearch has announced a world-first breakthrough in genetic modification research, with the goal of producing hypoallergenic (low allergy) milk.

It has bred a genetically modified cloned calf producing milk in early trials with greatly reduced amounts of a protein known as beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), believed to be the leading cause of milk allergies in children.

The 11-month-old calf, Daisy, is in containment at AgResearch’s Ruakura site in Hamilton. She has a mysterious missing tail which AgResearch expects to know the cause of in a couple of weeks but believes is not linked to genetic modification.

GE Free New Zealand president Claire Bleakley said cows without the protein BLG was a “frightening development not a breakthrough”

Yes, those awful scientists – trying to develop safe milk for kids with allergies.

Bleakley is the former Green Party candidate for Wairarapa.

“Researchers that stoop so low as to manipulate the Mauri [spirit or life force] of an animal causing suffering, then pretend that this is a significant breakthrough when we already have business using technology to remove BLG, are inhumane.”

I tune off, when people talk about the spirit of cows, as a political reason to do something.

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33 Responses to “Allergen-free milk”

  1. IHStewart (388 comments) says:

    Bloody Luddites.

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  2. Manolo (13,517 comments) says:

    Expected tripe from a very ordinary Luddite. Enemies of progress the communists Green Party members are.

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  3. YesWeDid (1,044 comments) says:

    I don’t really have an issue with GM food as long as it is clearly labelled and then the consumer can decide but I’m not sure I’d be rushing to drink milk from a mutant cow with a missing tail.

    That episode of the Simpsons with the three eyed fish comes to mind.

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  4. flipper (3,847 comments) says:

    The bloody flat earth society has arisen – again.
    Is not evolution the ultimate, unstoppable, form of genetic modification?

    The really sad aspect is that red melons claim to be “better educated” than the great unwashed.

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  5. Souvlaki (38 comments) says:

    Totally pathetic to seize on the abscence of a tail as “proof” of some genome dysfunction ! As with humans ( or any mammal),limb reductions ( or tail in this case ) may be caused by things such as amniotic bands. Nothing to do with genetics….look it up & educate yourself Greenies!

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  6. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    Any farmers know how common is it for cows to be born without tails normally?

    It’s quite common to meet someone with a previous cleft palate (fixed by the horrors of science/medicine interfering with their Mauri) or a missing finger or a bung eye. You always hear news reports of conjoined farm animals on the news too.

    @YWD
    Would you eat lamb from a sheep missing a tail? Would you let the check-out operator with the malformed hand touch your groceries?

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  7. david (2,557 comments) says:

    It does really piss me off when the media rush off to get ignorant contrary feedback from “the other side” without familiarising themselves with either the science or the facts and then put out scary crap about the end of the world as we know it and the total destruction of New Zealand’s pastoral farming exports. Bleakley’s comments should have been called for the crap they are.

    Peddling ignorance has been refined to a high art form by the NZ MSM which demeans both the peddler and the audience.

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  8. emmess (1,400 comments) says:

    You have to hand it to the lefties, when they turn on each other they do it really well, much better than anyone from the right could ever do.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10838031

    Good Job Jonesy

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  9. labrator (1,849 comments) says:

    So if they’re removing the major protein from milk to make it tolerable I have to question the point? Some people are allergic to stuff, why strip everything out to make it “tolerable”?

    Milk without the protein, pointless gimmick.

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  10. Pete George (23,357 comments) says:

    All our milk is already extensively modified. It’s all pasteurised. Most is homogenised. There are many variants of milk with additives.

    And milk has been modified for a long time, churned into butter, curdled into cheese.

    Maybe Greens want us to eat grass and have our milk totally unchanged.

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  11. Kovac (29 comments) says:

    There are legitimate reasons to be cautious when dealing with the development of GE Technology but cow spirits aren’t one of them.

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  12. labrator (1,849 comments) says:

    There are many variants of milk with additives.

    That was actually one of the points they made, unfortunately there valid points are completely lost in their spiritual mumbo jumbo.

    …we already have business using technology to remove BLG…

    Out of interest, are they expecting this animal to be able to breed? I’m not sure how they would expect to rear young if it cannot pass protein through to it’s calf, that being the primary point of milk in the first place.

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  13. Lance (2,571 comments) says:

    So is this a genetically modified cow in that it was selectively bred, even cloned etc or a genetically engineered cow where fish and tomato genes were spliced in?
    There is a big fucking difference.

    There is no reports of GE associated with this cow, so yes the Luddites are talking crap again

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  14. YesWeDid (1,044 comments) says:

    ‘@YWD Would you eat lamb from a sheep missing a tail? Would you let the check-out operator with the malformed hand touch your groceries?’

    Two silly questions but what’s your point? Isn’t what I eat down to my personal choice? Should I be forced to eat GM food because David Farrar says it’s OK?

    I’ve said I’m not opposed to GM food just that it should be clearly labelled so I can make an informed choice. Truth is I’ve probably already eaten GM soybeans as they are now so widespread.

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  15. Lance (2,571 comments) says:

    For the anit-GM crowd hysterically shrieking away;
    It is work noting no carrots were orange until they were deliberately GM’ed for a Dutch celebration in the 17th century.

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  16. david (2,557 comments) says:

    labrator – re-read the article. The particular protein molecule that is suspected of being behind the allergies is only one of many, many protein variants found in cow’s milk. To suppress the production of one protein is unlikely to change the protein balance of milk overall.
    As PG says if you consider that pretty much all milk in NZ has the same fat:protein:water proportions, it is only a small mental jump to realise that the production process involves splitting milk up into it’s various components and recombining to a standard (known as standardising the milk unsurprisingly). Add in that some of the processing plants use ultra-filtration to extract some components that have an extremely high value on the export market (lactoferrin is but one example) and you might even find that our domestic milk is deficient in these molecules. So yes – surprise surprise every litre of milk you get at the supermarket is modified in some way.

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  17. YesWeDid (1,044 comments) says:

    @Lance – looks like it is direct manipulation of the cows RNA so not ‘selective breeding’ but ‘genetic engineering’ making the cow a GMO (genetically modified organism).

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  18. labrator (1,849 comments) says:

    The particular protein molecule that is suspected of being behind the allergies is only one of many, many protein variants found in cow’s milk.

    ” Lactoglobulin is the most common whey protein by a large margin.”. Am I missing something?

    you might even find that our domestic milk is deficient in these molecules</blockquote
    Yes, milk seems to have lost a lot of its usefulness and this is just one more step towards being a manufactured product and not in any way natural.

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  19. Nigel (516 comments) says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/20/business/energy-environment/disputed-study-links-modified-corn-to-greater-health-risks.html

    Ok that study was about roundup resistence in corn, but I think we’d be very wise to not rush in. We survived the China milk scandal, a GM scandal there would be catastrophic.

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  20. david (2,557 comments) says:

    labrator – I’m not a biochemist (at least it is 45 years since I attended my last Biochemistry class) but I suspect that there are more than one lactoglobulin protein variants. Noting that they are particularly discussing beta-lactoglobulin in this case.

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  21. labrator (1,849 comments) says:

    @david beta-lactoglobulin is lactoglobulin. It’s the primary cow milk protein missing from human milk, hence why a large number of humans are intolerant to it. Which is apparently a reason to genetically engineer cows to get rid of it. Reminds me of that Jurassic Park quote.

    …your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

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  22. redeye (638 comments) says:

    Genetic science is complicated shit. The vast majority of us plebs know absolutely fuck all about it. So it boils down to those of us that trust the scientists and those of us that don’t. All they need to do is label clearly and all three sides can be catered for.

    The third side are those that oppose anything the greens support.

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  23. Tauhei Notts (1,652 comments) says:

    I was helping my cow cocky mate in his herringbone shed.
    A cow defaecated upon me.
    Damn it!
    He said that the cow was releasing its “mauri”.

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  24. Lance (2,571 comments) says:

    @YesWeDid
    The RNA manipulation is not gene splicing though, or is it?

    Shades of grey here to the max.
    Yes a GMO but not a ‘Franken cow’, or am I missing something?

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  25. Paulus (2,568 comments) says:

    Anything of interest will not be known for at least 15 years – a usual media beatup.

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  26. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    labrator:” Lactoglobulin is the most common whey protein by a large margin.”. Am I missing something?

    Yes, you’re missing the curd part of milk. Caseins make up 80% of the protein component of milk but they are curd proteins. So BLG makes up a major portion of the other 20%.

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  27. kiwi in america (2,486 comments) says:

    I’m surprised the Greens haven’t called for a Commission of Inquiry already. They’ll march in the streets about a genetically modified tomato or milk but want to legalise NZ’s most frequently genetically modified plant – cannabis!

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  28. labrator (1,849 comments) says:

    Thank you @chiz

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  29. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    YWD:I’ve said I’m not opposed to GM food just that it should be clearly labelled so I can make an informed choice.

    A choice about what? Most people don’t know what GM is. Claire Bleakely, despite running an anti-GE group, has revealed in print that she doesn’t.

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  30. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    Lance:The RNA manipulation is not gene splicing though, or is it?

    There isn’t much point in manipulating RNA. It was the DNA that was modified, by adding a couple of genes to the cow.

    Shades of grey here to the max.

    Fifty shades of … milk?

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  31. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    And it turns out that levels of other milk proteins were higher than normal.

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  32. Kevin (1,122 comments) says:

    I’m not opposed on genetic engineering grounds but it is a complete waste of time and money and the taxpayer should not be supporting this pseudoscience quackery bullshit. We should try to make money out of real R&D and this crap just sucks resources away from where they are needed.

    Like the stupid million dollar biscut trial to see if breakfast is a useful meal. What a load of populist bollocks.

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  33. chiz (1,131 comments) says:

    In what way does genetic engineering constitute “pseudoscience quackery bullshit”?

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