Monday, January 01, 2007

Researchers Report Mad Cow Breakthrough

U.S. researchers say they have developed cattle that may be biologically incapable of getting mad cow disease, the Washington Post reported.

As a result of genetic engineering, the animals lack a gene that is crucial to the progression of the disease. The cattle were not designed for use as food -- rather, they were developed so human pharmaceuticals can be made in their blood without the risk that the products might get contaminated by the infectious agent that causes mad cow, the newspaper said.

The agent -- a protein known as a prion -- can cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which can be fatal to humans.

Scientists said the animals will facilitate studies of prions, and similar techniques might be used in subsequent development of animals with more nutritious meats. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it will set more stringent standards for engineered food animals than it recently set for clones.

"This is a seminal research paper," said Barbara Glenn, director for animal biotechnology at the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

The Washington industry group represents Hematech, the Sioux Falls, S.D., company that created the gene-altered cattle.

"This shows the application of transgenics to improving livestock production and ultimately food production."

Source: Science & Technology

I say band-aid.
I say band-aid with unforseen consequences! The U.S. government is ignoring the source of our food supply problems (centralized production) and promoting more designer animals that leave us in even more dire straights.

Does anyone know what a prion is? No one really does. They've been scratching their heads since I first heard of it in college. It seems to be "sort of" part virus, part bacteria. Scientists don't KNOW, but our government is eager to risk society regardles. Again, they pick and choose what they want science to stand behind.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not "pro-mad cow". It would be great if lots of people wouldn't get sick or die because of this illness, as well as the cost of killing infected herds. But wouldn't it be great to look at the science we do have, the methods and history we do have, that all point to one thing. It's time to redesign our farming methods! For health, for cost reasons, and for ethical reasons.

No comments: