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GE Cows That Can Be Turned into Cannibals Without Risk of Mad Cow?

Flawed science
Cape Times (South Africa),
January 4 2007
www.capetimes.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3611523

The article "Breeding breakthrough produces mad cow resistant cattle" (January 2) reporting that scientists have genetically engineered cows to render them immune to mad cow disease - or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) - notably overlooked the blindingly obvious.

It has been clearly demonstrated that the most likely way that cows got BSE in the first place is from insane farming practices such as feeding sheep and cows to cows. These herbivores became infected through cannibalism, perpetuated by human greed.

Now some bright sparks have come up with a solution, effectively rendering cows BSE-immune by destroying the prions where the disease is located. The corollary is that animal feed companies can revert to feeding ground-up beef and sheep carcasses to cows with a clear conscience.

What this solution clearly demonstrates is that science is completely blind to common sense and that if scientists can do something they will.

Anyone who has read books like Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser, will know how little the international meat industry cares about animal welfare, ethics or the consumer.

And let's not forget South Africa imports ever- increasing tonnages of feedlot beef.

By providing a genetically engineered solution to the problem, science has effectively presented this disquieting industry with a get-out-of-jail-free ticket.

This is science and research that should not have seen the light of day.

But given that the US Food and Drugs Administration has recently granted permission for cloned animals to be consumed merely reinforces the perversity of this so-called progress.

Now that we can genetically engineer pigs to glow in the dark, perhaps bangers that can light up the fridge are the next tasty morsels? Sies; count me out.

Glenn Ashton
Noordhoek ---

--- 2.Breeding breakthrough produces mad cow resistant cattle
Cape Times,
January 2 2007
www.capetimes.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3609821

WASHINGTON: US and Japanese scientists reported on Sunday that they had used genetic engineering to produce cattle that resist mad cow disease.

They hope the cattle can be the source of herds that can provide dairy products, gelatin and other products free of the brain-destroying disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE.

Writing in the journal Nature Biotechnology (read full study here), the researchers said their cattle were healthy at the age of 20 months, and sperm from the males made normal embryos that were used to impregnate cows, although it is not certain yet that they could breed normally.

The cattle lack the nervous system prions, a type of protein, that cause BSE and other related diseases such as scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, known as CJD, in humans, the researchers said.

"(Prion-protein-negative) cattle could be a preferred source of a wide variety of bovine-derived products that have been extensively used in biotechnology, such as milk, gelatin, collagen, serum and plasma," they wrote.

Yoshimi Kuroiwa, of Kirin Brewery Company in Tokyo, and colleagues made the cattle, known as "knockouts" because a specific gene has been "knocked" out of them, using a method they call gene targeting.

"By knocking out the prion protein gene and producing healthy calves, our team has successfully demonstrated that normal cellular prion protein is not necessary for the normal development and survival of cattle. The cows are now nearly two years old and are completely healthy," said James Robl, of Hematech, a South Dakota subsidiary of Kirin.

BSE swept through British beef herds in the 1980s and people began developing an odd, early-onset form of CJD called variant CJD, or vCJD, a few years later. CJD normally affects one in a million people globally, usually the elderly.

There is no cure and it is always fatal. - Reuters