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Holy Cow! Now That's Progress

A look at some major changes in the dairy industry

MONDAY, Dec. 30, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Specially bred cows that produce low-fat milk, environmentally friendly cows that emit less methane, and milk that boosts people's immune systems are among the changes in dairy production that may occur over the next 50 years.

They're included in a special report that appears in a recent issue commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemstry.

You can already buy organic milk at your local supermarket. However, there are plans to create new kinds of milk that will boost immunity, improve lactose utilization and relieve diarrhea.

Recent advances in biotechnology have identified a gene for milk fat synthesis. That research may some day lead to selective breeding of cows that naturally produce low-fat milk.

The report notes that while research into genetically modified cows and milk products shows promise, such products will likely face consumer resistance for many years.

Something that consumers may be more enthusiastic about are "green" cows that produce less methane and have less impact of global climate change.

Dairy cows and other cattle produce significant amounts of methane as a result of their digestion process. Methane is a major contributor (second only to carbon dioxide) to the greenhouse effect, which contributes to global climate change.

Scientists believe they can alter cattle digestion to reduce methane emissions. The scientists think this can be achieved either by removing microorganisms that produce methane in cattle stomachs or by creating microorganisms that produce metabolic products other than methane.

More information

North Carolina State University has more about dairy products.

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, December 2002
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