Mom, why do you have to go feed that dumb human baby? (Photo by Lionel Rich.)

You know that human breast milk is very important for babies’ development. (If you don’t know this, go ostentatiously bottle-feed a baby doll near a farmers market! It will be fun, I promise.) But for various reasons, sometimes new moms can’t breastfeed — they need medication that shows up in breast milk, for instance, or they just don’t produce enough. And this is where genetically engineered goats, uh … butt in.

Animal scientists at the University of California, Davis have figured out how to genetically engineer domesticated mammals to produce  some of the enzymes and proteins found in breast milk. This means that infants who couldn’t breastfeed could instead drink goat milk with about 60 percent of the beneficial immune-boosting and just general good-for-you power of mother’s milk. There’s other stuff they can do with this fancy altered goat milk, like make milk last longer on the shelf or provide enzymes that prevent simple but often deadly disorders like childhood diarrhea.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the people who tend to be total freaks about breastfeeding also tend to be people who automatically think that anything genetically modified is bad for you. Look for them having shouting matches with themselves at your local health food store.

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