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Bovine-human crossbreeds

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In Interview with a Humanoid (NYTimes, free registration required), Nicholas Kristof writes about a human-animal crossbreed that was new to me (Cow-human), and about our post-human future. From the article:

DEFOREST, Wis. — In a secret, locked barn near DeForest, five black-and-white calves look up from their hay with huge, friendly eyes. No. 313 approaches, as if to grant an interview, for these are not the ordinary bovines they seem — all five are part human.

The five calves are clones, which is eerie enough. In addition, human DNA was added to their genetic makeup when they were embryos.

Their DNA is still more than 99.9 percent bovine, less than 0.1 percent human, but the human component means that they are expected to produce a human protein, C-1 Esterase Inhibitor, in their milk. That could treat humans suffering from angioedema, an ailment that arises from a lack of C-1.

These humanoid calves offer a window into a future in which lines are blurred between humans and other species. Biotechnology is transforming the world around us, far more quickly than we can build a regulatory structure to accommodate it. Human cloning gets the attention, but for the next 15 years the greater impact will arise from the genetic manipulation of animals.


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