Sunday, July 3, 2022

Scientists refute GE Free claims

AgResearch scientists are confident they can knock out beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) protein from cows’ milk without creating unintended adverse effects to infants who drink the milk.

NO SUFFERING: Dr Stefan Wagner says claims research by the Agresearch teamwas causing animal suffering for no worthwhile purpose are unfounded.

They have also responded strongly to a suggestion that their research was causing animal suffering for no worthwhile purpose.

GE Free New Zealand made both allegations in response to news that AgResearch breakthrough in suppressing BLG protein expression in a genetically modified heifer called Daisy.

Daisy is behind double fences in the AgResearch secure unit and will now be mated naturally to see if BLG suppression can be passed on to her offspring and useful milk quantities obtained for testing.

“We transferred 100 blastocysts (embryos), and out of that had 46 pregnancies. Five were carried through to 65 days, and one (Daisy) made it to nearly full-term, making her extra-special.”

 

Dr Stefan Wagner

AgResearch

BLG is implicated in most of cow milk allergies in infants and milk produced commercially from Daisy’s descendants could in the future be marketed as hypoallergenic (does not cause allergies).

GE Free NZ claimed that BLG is an essential part of milk for healthy digestion, immune system function and the formation of healthy bones, skin, teeth and muscle development.

AgResearch said that BLG is not present in all milks, and not in human breast milk, and that no definitive function has ever been ascribed to BLG.

It is a milk protein produced exclusively in the mammary tissue only when a cow is lactating and doesn’t show up in any other tissue.

After looking up several scientific papers cited by GE Free NZ, Dr Stefan Wagner (one of the GM Daisy team) said: “All of the scientific papers cited by GE Free NZ talk about potential roles of the protein.

“They clearly do not support GE Free’s statements about BLG being essential. BLG is neither an essential part of milk nor is essential for any of the mentioned potential functions.”

GE Free NZ also claimed that technology exists and is being used commercially to extract BLG from milk, cheese and butter, so that AgResearch’s work is pointless.

Wagner responded by saying there is no commercial extraction of BLG from milk and that butter is a fat product not a protein product.

Cheese is made from the casein protein in milk, leaving behind the whey proteins which do contain BLG, effectively what is left over after making cheese.

Finally, AgResearch admitted that its GM technology with dairy cattle has a high failure rate, but that did not imply animal cruelty and all its work has animal ethics approval.

“We transferred 100 blastocysts (embryos), and out of that had 46 pregnancies. Five were carried through to 65 days, and one (Daisy) made it to nearly full-term, making her extra-special,” Wagner said.

None of the embryos were aborted or euthanised.

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