A dairy farm in China claims to have successfully genetically modified cows so that they produce human breast milk. If government approval is granted, the cow-produced “human” milk could be on supermarket shelves in China in three years. Maybe the breast milk ice cream shop was on to something.
If the genetically modified milk gets the stamp of approval, it will likely spark plenty of debate surrounding genetically modified food in general, and where the line is when it comes to ethics.
We were (and still are) admittedly a bit turned off by the prospect of eating something made from human breast milk, but the reality is that humans are the only animals who drink milk from another animal. And that’s something that’s not lost on nature. If you look at the rise of lactose-free dairy products and soy milk on store shelves, it’s no secret that not all humans are equipped to properly digest cow’s milk. Meaning that even if it seems weird, reaching for a bowl of breast milk ice cream is probably more natural than reaching for a pint of cow’s milk ice cream.
While that might be the case, milking women like cows is unlikely to gain popularity outside of a fetish community or two, meaning even if you are willing to splash breast milk on your cereal your options for finding a gallon are pretty limited.
Consider that China has a billion people to feed, and that a certain portion of those people might not be able to digest cow’s milk, and it becomes a little easier to understand why someone has undertaken this little experiment in the first place. Throw in the fact that many Chinese parents haven’t forgotten the tainted formula scandal that led to a formula manufacturer being sentenced to death (the plastic laced formula killed some of the babies who drank it), and there’s definitely a market.
Is the milk safe for human consumption? Presumably that’s what Chinese officials are testing for. Is it really human breast milk? Scientifically, this hasn’t been proven, so it’s difficult to say if the milk really is identical to what a child would get from a nursing mother. Let’s say it is; the bigger question is if enough consumers would be willing to put their initial reactions aside for farmers to milk the genetically modified food opportunity.