Got Milk? Cows, Not Needed: Scientists Bioengineer Milk

-edited

Scientists believe they are on the cusp of a huge change in the way we produce milk in history. Cows won't be needed.

Race to Bioengineer Milk

Please consider Made Without Humans or Cows: Inside the Race to Bioengineer Milk.

From Silicon Valley to Switzerland, hundreds of millions of dollars are being pumped into a new technology to produce “real milk” - containing identical casein and whey proteins to the genuine article - but without any humans, cows or other animals involved at all.

There is a lot at stake. The global dairy industry was worth $413bn in 2017 while the market for infant formula is expected to top $70bn this year, according to Save the Children.

From animal cruelty on factory farms to deforestation and a rising portion of the emissions linked to climate change, raising cattle to produce milk is facing a growing reputational challenge.

“If you see how cows are treated in the milking process… from a moral standpoint it's appalling to most people,” says Niccolo Manzoni, founding partner at Five Seasons Ventures, an agricultural technology fund based in Paris.

A study published by the World Health Organisation just last week involving almost 30,000 children across 16 countries suggested breast-feeding has a “protective effect” in staving off fat tissue. Bottle-fed babies, the study found, are 25pc more likely to end up obese.

Corporate giants such as US-based DowDuPont, BASF, Nestle, as well as start-ups such as Sugarlogix, Gnubiotics Sciences and Jennewein Biotechnologie are busy pouring money into lab research. They are developing products that are very similar to human milk, a complex hybrid of over 1000 proteins and a unique ingredient called human milk oligosaccharide (HMO).

Udderless Future?

An udderless future is eventually in the cards. But even if scientists perfect the technology, how far off is public acceptance?

Farmers will push to ban it. That's for sure.

What about labeling? Using the term "milk" for such products will likely be restricted.

Would you drink bioengineered milk?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (44)
No. 1-30
Stuki
Stuki

"An udderless future is eventually in the cards. "

As is one of flying cars, space travel to distant galaxies and teleportation.

Myob
Myob

I don't see bioengineered milk being any more dangerous than, say, Diet Coke, which is known to soften teeth and cause metabolic issues. If it's genuinely just like milk, it's probably a great idea.

Bam_Man
Bam_Man

The TeeVee will tell them "It's just as good as milk" and they will believe it and happily drink it. As a result, the downward trajectories of life expectancy and IQ's in the US will "unexpectedly" accelerate.

FloydVanPeter
FloydVanPeter

Cow milk is imperfect actually. Some have intolerance.

Bio-engineered milk is no different than baby formula (which by and large a success) protein bars, and a like. All are quite/highly processed though rather opaque supply chains. I strive to avoid such foods. But, heck isn't our beloved chocolate bars exactly that...?

Realist
Realist

An interesting product that is still in development. It could be available for sale next year. Apparently they are working to get the taste and texture right. Initial cost will be higher until they can scale up. It has the possibility of being more healthy for humans than cows milk, with a much longer shelf life. Not to mention, much better for the environment and climate. Could be a big winner if the hype holds true. Time will tell. Another example of human ingenuity bringing change to the world.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

We already consume veggie burgers which look and taste like meat. We are headed to a star trek future where a meal will be genetically produced on demand and have all the good and none of the bad.

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

By the way we already have milk that has been stripped apart and reduced in fat and increased in protein. Tastes and looks the same. This is just the next evolutionary step. Imagine how much better off the malnutrition problem would be with milk in places that dont have cows.

leicestersq
leicestersq

Arent calves separated from their mothers so that we can get milk or killed even?

I cant say I feel comfortable with this. If the substitute is a healthy product, it would be a lot easier to swallow.

thimk
thimk

lets defer that question to "Mikey" - the gold standard in palatability .

KidHorn
KidHorn

I buy almond milk for my wife. She likes it the same as regular milk. It costs a little more, but $2.50/64oz isn't exorbitant. Looks the same too. Don't see how this is much different.

Grumblenose
Grumblenose

Milk without cows. Burgers without cows. Well I'm guessing that soon there won't be any cows, except at the zoo. Basically we will (almost) wipe out an entire species just so we can feel less guilty.

Greggg
Greggg

Manufactured with no glysophate would be the marketing tilt... that is if the water supply at the manufacturing plant isn't already laced with the chemical.

Onni4me
Onni4me

My other half cooked salmon with asparagus and mushroom sauce and it was nearly perfect...just that the salmon was from frozen filet...I am very fond of fresh fish and don't believe anything-like-fish would ever be better than a real fresh trout caught from the river - a real treat that I get occasionally in the summer months. I personally think that anything engineered never will be the same. Lots is lost in the variation and those little things enhancing the taste buds.

Maximus_Minimus
Maximus_Minimus

Producing 1000s of proteins with genetically modified bacteria is quite a challenge. Couldn't these brave scientists start with a flu vaccine? Millions of eggs are used to do it every year.

pvguy
pvguy

Advanced milk substitute? I think not. I grew up on a dairy farm. Those cows are pretty pampered, because a happy cow is a productive cow. Stress them out and milk production drops rather noticeable.

Jojo
Jojo

This is part of the work necessary to eventually be able to deliver to deliver all food through replicators in every house.

silvermitt
silvermitt

This is going to be touted at t he low cost alternative for all those on snap benefits and such. It'll be promoted like crazy and people will listen and consume. My family won't be though. Genetically modified anything makes me physically ill and this won't be any different. I will say that this reminds me of the scene in the Matrix, where Neo asks what he's eating, and the fellow rattles off "It's a single-celled protein combined with synthetic aminos, vitamins, and minerals. Everything the body needs." Before long, if the corporations have their way, that's how we'll be eating. Wigs the hell out of me to think we're headingthis way...

ksdude
ksdude

Unless you're getting it straight from the farm you might be drinking something even worse than bio. This should make AOC the fart queen happy. But not happy enough. She'll still insist on a diet of cockroaches while she pounds down a big greasy one,

TheLege
TheLege

I'm an udder man, myself.

Kimo
Kimo

How much oil will it take to produce a gallon of milk? How about efficiently producing oil from waste products and sunlight? That would be worthwhile.

Sechel
Sechel

i won't drink milk now. whether it's bio-produced or comes from the cow doesn't matter. i do use milk based products such as yogurt and if the taste and composition is the same doesn't matter to me. right now cows are pumped full of antiobiotics, perhaps in this cowless factory we won't need them.

and missing from this discussion is producing milk more cheaply and feeding the hungry.

Blurtman
Blurtman

Moloko Plus™

27CAV8R
27CAV8R

Here's a Bloomberg article that talks about dairy and plant based dairy substitutes. Dairy consumption is down 40% as people are realizing that cow milk is not the health elixer it is touted to be. If you do some research into cow milk and milk products you will discover that one of the best things you can do for your long-term health is...not drink cow milk and not eat cow milk products (yep, even cheese I'm sorry to say).

WildBull
WildBull

Milk -- a petroleum product.

RonJ
RonJ

"Would you drink bioengineered milk?"

Will it be made using Los Angeles tap water? A new report says it contains things such as arsenic.

magoomba
magoomba

Who wants tits without nipples?

ReadyKilowatt
ReadyKilowatt

Isn't the price of milk and dairy at an all time low? I vaguely recall a story here about a family dairy farm going under because of overproduction and a drop in demand. Same thing with meat, more people choosing vegan diets means less meat and fish needed.

I know they're trying to think long term, but at least the alchemists were trying to make something valuable.

magoomba
magoomba

I'm ready for Elsieburgers.

Harbour
Harbour

I don’t drink milk now