Brazil plan to breed gene-edited dairy cattle on hold after bacterial DNA found in animal’s genome

Dairy cow in Normandy
Image: Julietvbarbara CC 4.0

Up until a few months ago, Brazil was all set to create the country’s first herd of genetically dehorned dairy cows. In October 2018, Brazilian regulators had determined that an American biotechnology company’s efforts to produce such an animal didn’t require any special oversight.

The company, Minnesota-based Recombinetics, started preparing shipments of sperm from one of their two gene-edited Holstein bulls, Buri. With it, they planned to create about ten calves to prove the edit could be passed down, and to study their health for a few years while they lived in Brazil …. But now, WIRED has learned, those plans have been abruptly dropped.

Buri, it turns out, had more than just the hornlessness gene slipped into his genome. Part of the editing machinery, the piece of bacterial DNA that delivered the desired gene into Buri’s cells, called a plasmid, had accidentally gotten pasted into his genome. He was, in fact, part bacteria.

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That fact alone is not necessarily problematic; scientists believe that bacteria are constantly swapping genes with the organisms they live on, including cows and humans. But …. in the eyes of Brazilian regulators, he was bacteria enough that Buri …. could no longer be viewed as not GMO.

Read full, original article: Brazil’s Plans for Gene-Edited Cows Got Scrapped—Here’s Why

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