- Bill Gates is backing a quest to create a genetically modified Super Cow, hoping to produce four times more genetically modified milk
And he sees all kinds of potential:
- modifying the genes of livestock animals like tropical cows, which normally don’t produce much milk, to make them produce milk more like dairy cows.
- making dairy cattle more resilient in hot weather, something essential in our ever-warming world
- editing the genes of crops to make it easier for them to survive hot or arid conditions, provide more nutrients, and require less water to thrive
It should come as no surprise that Gates has long been supportive of using genetic editing tools. In fact, “he was one of the early investors in Editas Medicine, one of the first companies to start trying to use CRISPR to eliminate human diseases.”2 And his foundation researchers have worked for almost a decade on ways to use genetic editing to improve crops and wipe out malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
“CRISPR stands for Clustered, Regularly Interspaced, Short Palindromic Repeat and is a naturally-occurring defense mechanism used by bacteria. Like a pair of “molecular scissors,” bacteria carry the DNA of certain viruses so it can recognize them when they appear. When they see them, the bacteria will hook up to the viral DNA and cut out the mutated piece of the strand.
Scientists have figured out how to manipulate this process and use it, at will, on viruses and other instances of DNA. The upside is that we can destroy dangerous DNA that cause things like muscular distrophy, fatal blood diseases and even blindness.
The downside? People are afraid of it because it’s untested. There is a chance for the genetic changes to be passed down to future generations and we really don’t know the outcome or potential outcome of this serious procedure.”3
Gates also believes that CRISPR might be able to make enormous progress in the fight against malaria. By using CRISPR, researchers believe they could “fundamentally alter the DNA” of some of the 40 Anopheles species whose females can transmit malaria, thereby make the population infertile or only able to produce male offspring.
- Bill Gates, are vaccines a “miracle” over disease and a “fantastic investment”…— or a disaster for child health that may break the bank?
Like many in the scientific community, Gates believes the ability to easily modify DNA is a powerful tool that could do a world of good as long as it’s done carefully, saying, “It would be a tragedy to pass up the opportunity.”
But, while the power to rewrite the genetic code for life is impressive, are there any drawbacks? And, has anyone stopped to ask if we should rewrite DNA?
While it would be nice to be rid of the mosquitos that carry disease, I am not willing to become one of Bill Gates guinea pigs; he and others want to release GM mosquitoes in Florida (among other places). Please help us by signing the petition to keep GM mosquitoes OUT of Florida.