I don’t oppose transgenic use of animals to obtain legitimate medical substances. For example, Dolly the cloned sheep was manufactured as the first step toward creating a genetically altered sheep herd that produced a protein useful in the creation of medicines. That effort went belly up, but now biotechnologists in China have genetically altered cows to produce milk that is essentially human, and it is intended for the general consumer market. From the story:
Chinese scientists have genetically modified dairy cows to produce human breast milk, and hope to be selling it in supermarkets within three years. The milk produced by the transgenic cows is identical to the human variety, with the same immune-boosting and antibacterial qualities as breast milk, scientists at China’s Agricultural University in Beijing said. The transgenic herd of 300 was bred by inserting human genes into cloned cow embryos which were then implanted into surrogate cows...The milk is still undergoing safety tests, but with government permission it will be sold to consumers as a more nutritious dairy drink than cow’s milk.
I’m sorry, the health benefits from human milk evolved (or were created or designed) to fulfill the biological requirements of babies. Adults obtain nutrition from other sources. I also did a little research and found that while there are theories human milk could ameliorate certain diseases, there are no studies, and certainly no firm data on using human milk as a dietary supplement.
But let’s get to the bottom line: This is just excess and a gimmick that, frankly, seems akin to the quackery of using rhino horn as an aphrodisiac. For some, I think it would also become hedonism—the thrill of consuming a purportedly human product. Moreover, what about the calves that have to be born so the cows produce milk? Does this harm them? And while I certainly believe in the instrumental use of animals, I don’t think we should change their germ lines for frivolous reasons.
This story illustrates why our scientific prowess could ultimately turn into a bane. We refuse to maintain reasonable limits. A new process or procedure is developed to ameliorate a legitimate problem, and then, we turn it into Disneyland. So, I guess the question becomes whether we are mature enough to manage our own scientific prowess in responsible and sober manner. Increasingly, I think not.