A while back I stayed with a good friend who keeps two goats. One of them was a gentle, charming animal. The other was having a bad day and headbutted me in the behind.
On impulse, I looked up genetic experiments on goats and found some truly bizarre things.
1. Goats that lactate human breast milk.
Scientists created these transgenic goats by transferring human genes for breast milk enzymes and proteins into goat embryos.
This human-goat milk is being touted as a solution for mothers who can’t breastfeed or are not around.
Imagine that. Going down to the supermarket to buy your goat-bred human milk to feed your tiny human.
Question: Would you want your baby drinking human milk from goats?!
2. Goats that lactate a malaria vaccine.
Genetically engineering mozzies to fight malaria is one thing. That makes sense since mozzies spread the disease.
But goats? Why goats?
Apparently because they’re plentiful in the poverty-stricken countries where malaria is most likely to occur.
And scientists have done it. They’ve genetically modified goats to produce malaria vaccine in their milk.
Having taken my fair share of anti-malarials in my time, the idea of immunity through drinking milk is attractive, I admit.
Question: Would you be okay with such an oral vaccine from goats?
3. Goats that produce spidersilk protein in their milk.
Okay, I get why. Strong. Elastic. Supposed applications include artificial ligaments, bulletproof vests, parachute cords.
But it’s too hard to farm spiders. They tend to kill each other if too many of them are confined in a spider farm.
So scientists have found a method of putting the spider’s silk-making genes into goats. This way the silk proteins can be harvested from their milk and purified.
Question: No question. I’d much rather farm goats than spiders!
Of course, while these are all intriguing, the bigger questions remain of long-term effects on humans of consuming GM products.