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I am a supporter of “pharming,” that is, making minor genetic alterations in herd animals so that we can obtain valuable substances in their milk (as just one example).  In fact, the cloning of Dolly was intended to promote just such a herd of cloned transgenic sheep.

That enterprise went belly up, but the idea remains viable.  And now, scientists at Texas A&M have created a transgenic goat that produces milk which could one day become a major source of bounteous quantities of malaria vaccine.  From the KBTX story:

Long & fellow A&M researcher Mark Westhusin keep a careful eye on goat number 21 because her milk holds a vaccine for malaria. “There are lots of different things that one can think about producing in the milk. Malaria vaccine is one that’s really important because there’s a big demand for it in a lot of impoverished countries,” said Westhusin. Through genetic engineering, this goat could be the golden goose when it comes to preventing malaria in third world countries.  A disease that kills a child in Africa every minute according to the World Health Organization. “What you’d have is an animal that could be in any village around the world and all natives would have to do is drink some of that milk and be immunized against malaria,” said Long.

And hence we see the potential for tremendous good from bioetch and the need for using animals instrumentally to relieve human suffering.

There’s still a long way to go before that day dawns, but I sure I hope this experiment succeeds.  Think of the human lives that would be saved and the human suffering avoided.

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