Thursday, January 31, 2013

GM Allergy free milk?

According to Wiley’s evolutionary perspective towards cow milk consumption and health, there have been different adaptations to lactose. The ability to break down lactose by the means of lactase has not been a universal adaptation, considering that different populations across the globe do not share the same levels of lactase persistence. 
Since the typical western diet includes large quantities of dairy products in addition to carbs, sugars and fats, the ability to consume milk without discomfort is considered "normal" through the general public, and showing that those who do not share this persistence are instead suffering from a condition such as lactose intolerance which is diagnosed as a disorder.
Interestingly enough, it appears that in order to bring people who suffer from severe lactose intolerance, biotechnology has come to the rescue by experimentation with GMOs and cows to produce “low allergy” milk.  This is being done by adding “extra genetic material to disrupt the manufacturing process [of beta-lactoglobulin protein, a known whey allergen] using a technique called RNA interference” (Gallagher).  Considering there’s much speculation around the usage of GMOs and in this particular experiment, a hormone was used in order to produce a calf from the original cow, “Daisy”, it seems unlikely that it will be a process used in the near future since studies will need to be made on future generations of the modified cattle (if any) as well as making sure that future generations will not contain the existing allergen.
            Changes in agriculture are becoming the norm as biotechnology advances throughout the years and into our very plates, without us even realizing it. Rather than eating foods that the products of domestication have provided for us, humans turn more towards GMOs and additional refinement processes to alter these foods so that they’re more palatable.  Although I’m personally not very fond of GMOs, I think it’s interesting to see to what extent biotechnology goes into trying to better human lives whether it is to produce crops for malnutrition in Africa or to accommodate people in more developed countries. 

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