NZ Herald: Hopes pinned on GM milk

Chris Barton writes in the NZ Herald about the vigorous debate over the use of genetic modification (GM) in the country, presenting the arguments of both sides.

Pro-GM campaigners say that such research is necessary for the development of therapies and treatments for a number of diseases, and that using animals to produce some of the needed proteins and enzymes can be better than producing them synthetically.

Others say that caution is needed with GM due to the potential unforeseen consequences of tampering with genes, and that strict assessments are needed to ensure that the resulting products are safe for use.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“Though current enzyme replacement therapies are produced from genetically modified cell lines “fermented” in bioreactors in much the same way as synthetic insulin is produced, Forman says there are a number of advantages to using mammals’ milk to produce the proteins or enzymes.

“Using a mammalian system, he says, enables better uptake of the proteins by the patient’s cells, and minimises the chances of rejection by the patient’s immune system.

“Producing milk from a transgenic herd also avoids the complex, expensive laboratory and industrial-scale production processes that ferment genetically modified animal cell lines.

“But though the therapies Forman and others advocate clearly have benefits, they also raise the spectre of possible unknown effects of genetic modification.”