How Do We Feel About Cows Producing Human Breast Milk?

I, too, await the cyborg overlords who will colonize the Earth, imprison us all, and incubate alien babies in our fertile wombs.

But what I cannot wrap my head around? China claims to have genetically modified cows to produce human breast milk. Yes, a “moo moo moo” cow producing milk for a “wah wah wah” human baby.

Whoa.Chinese scientists have allegedly “introduced human genes into a herd of 300 cows that will cause the cows’ milk to have much more ‘human’ milk properties,” according to the blog Care2. The scientists are hoping that they could replace baby formula with mass-produced human breast milk, which is the most nutritious way to feed a baby.

Hmm, I wonder if mass-produced human breast milk fed to babies via bottles would take off. First of all, genetic modification of food is hugely controversial. Second, breast milk is considered by many to be a very personal and sacred thing from a mama, especially since viruses like HIV can be transmitted from mother to baby through nursing. And thirdly, given the intimacy of breastfeeding a baby human breast milk — the young one is pulled close to her breast, often shrouded in a blanket, even squired away to nurse privately in another room — I question whether parents would happily serve it to their babies in bottles just like formula.

Yet others say breast milk is just breast milk and of course they’d serve it in bottles just like formula. Consider the practice of wet nurses, for instance, or even breastfeeding mamas of infants who co-feed each other’s babies, among them, feminist author Jennifer Baumgardner. Some of Baumgardner’s original reservations about co-feeding with her good friend — “my milk is specially formulated with antibodies perfectly designed just for [my son]!” — she later relented on when she realized she was incorrect. Even though I don’t have a baby myself, I empathize with her “my breast milk is special” concern.

What do you think about cows producing human breast milk? Cool? Or strange?

(Oh, and one more thing: I wonder if when a cow tries to breastfeed in Walmart, she gets scolded to cover up and go do it in the bathroom instead?)

[ Breast Friends, by Jennifer Baumgardner]
[World Health Organization: 20 Questions On Genetically Modified Foods]