Will allergen-free milk revive New Zealand’s genetic engineering debate?

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It is an irony of bioscience that a country that prohibits most genetically modified produce from the food chain is a world leader in the development of gene editing …. New Zealand is entering into a new discussion about how it should approach the research and application of genetic modification.

The country emerged as an outlier in this field of research back in 2012 when Daisy, a genetically engineered dairy calf, made headlines around the world. Researchers at AgResearch, New Zealand’s biggest public research institute, used a genetic intervention called RNA interference to target a particular cow milk protein known to be allergenic.

The team were able to prove they could knock down beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), which is a significant cause of the allergic reactions to cow’s milk that affect 2-3% of infants. [W]ould the same genetic trait continue through Daisy’s offspring? They believe that it has, after monitoring 12 of her female calves and observing no detectable levels of BLG in their milk.

Related article:  The risks of using gene drives to get rid of 'pesky species'

Public reticence

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Yet New Zealanders are reticent to embrace gene editing, and public opinion staunchly favors remaining GE free …. This frosty attitude may be thawing, however, nearly 20 years since genetic engineering was last debated at a national level. While it is unlikely that New Zealand will change its cautious approach to genetic modification, at least the subject is being reopened little by little.

Read full, original article: New Zealand tentatively reopens debate into dairy gene editing

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