Pure Pedantry

i-e5870b0920fd848a2bbec7e4fddcaafd-cow.jpgResearchers have discovered cows with genes that allow them to make skim milk:

Herds of cows producing skimmed milk could soon be roaming our pastures, reports Cath O’Driscoll in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI. Scientists in New Zealand have discovered that some cows have genes that give them a natural ability to produce skimmed milk and plan to use this information to breed herds of milkers producing only skimmed milk.

The researchers also plan to breed commercial herds producing milk with the unique characteristics required to make a butter that is spreadable straight from the fridge. They have already identified a cow, Marge, with the genes required to do this and say a commercial herd is likely by 2011. The milk is very low in saturated fats and so should be high in polyunsaturates and monounsaturated fats.

Experts say that the discovery of these rogue milkers could completely revolutionise the dairy industry. Ed Komorowski, technical director at Dairy UK says that the New Zealand approach could be used to breed cows that still produce full-fat milk but with only the good fats, which could swing things back in favour of full-fat milk. In the UK, for example, only 25% of milk sold is full fat. ‘In future if whole milk can be made to contain unsaturated fats – which are good for you – then it might mean that people change back to whole milk products. The big thing about dairy products is taste, so this would be a way of giving the benefits of taste without the disadvantage of saturated fats,’ according to Komorowski.

This may also overcome the problem of waste. ‘If you can genetically produce milk without fat then that may turn out to be a very good solution to what might later be a big disposal issue,’ says Komorowski. Producing skimmed and semi-skimmed milk means there is a lot of fat left over.

Now if we could only engineer some sort of Oreo cookie producing squirrel…


  1. #1 Melinda Barton
    May 30, 2007

    This reminds me of a Simpson’s episode where the professor creates a device that allows a cow to make vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Life imitates art?

  2. #2 KKairos
    June 1, 2007

    I thought it was going to be some sort of human interference. So I was quite surprised to find it was actually a natural ability of the cows–and the butter thing surprised me even more.

    This is pretty awesome.

  3. #3 Que Areste
    June 22, 2007

    Butter is not bad for you! Naturally saturated fats from grass fed cows is good for you. Manufactured fats, also called hydrogenated fats are the real culprit. Coconut fat is more saturated than butter, is vegan (for those who care about that) and is very good for you. Cooking with polyunsaturated fats is not good. The fats break down into free radicals when heated. Research has shown heated corn and safflower oils are carcinogenic. Yes, they can cause cancer. Butter does not.

  4. #4 jacques
    December 25, 2007

    Well a good portion of the milk fat used to be collected to make cream which is much more valuable than the milk. I’m not sure there’s an advantage in skipping the milk skimming process. and I don’t like the idea of GEs

  5. #5 Susan Stevensport
    January 11, 2008

    This one time at karate class, I kicked a guy so hard that his mom died.

    Well, its true.

  6. #6 Ken Smith
    March 10, 2010

    It is true! I saw it….Susan Stevensport is one bad mother! And she drinks whole milk.

  7. #7 Kate Martin
    April 20, 2012

    I love this comment. ^

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