The claim came as a herd of 200 cows that have already had their genes tweaked was showcased in Beijing as part of a celebration of the achievements of the last Chinese five year plan, which ran from 2006-2010.
The rationale behind the genetic modification is to improve cow’s milk by making it nutritionally the same as human milk — at present it is deficient in two important proteins.
However, the resultant milk is not exactly the same. The researchers say it has a much stronger taste and, of course, it does not contain the flow of antibodies from mother to baby which breast milk’s best proponents say is a vital part of breastfeeding babies.
The Chinese government has given the researchers 22 months in which to conduct laboratory tests on the milk, at the end of which it will determine whether it is safe for the milk and dairy products derived from it to be sold in Chinese supermarkets.
The announcement has caused puzzlement around the world.
“Why? Where’s the need?” wondered Devinder Sharma, an award winning Indian journalist covering international food policy.
Paul Kingsnorth, a prominent UK writer and green campaigner, was more forthright with his opinions. “At what point do humans just fucking stop this crap?” he asked.
- Genetically Modified Foods Causing Animal Miscarriages, but Who Cares? (2011)
- GM Alfalfa threatens to contaminate organic crops (2011)
- Centre for Food Safety & Earthjustice sue USDA over GM Alfalfa (2011)
- GM crops are harmful to your health (2009)
Chris is a seasoned sustainability journalist focusing on business, finance and clean technology. His writing's been carried by a number of highly respected publishers, including The Guardian, The Washington Post and Scientific American. You can follow him on twitter as @britesprite, where he's one of Mashable's top green tweeters and Fast Company's CSR thought leaders. Alternatively you can follow him to the shops... but that would be boring.