While glancing at articles on Ars Technica, I noticed an article titled, “Cow engineered to produce less allergenic milk“. Before I read the article I was certain that it would be another absurd food science article cheering on the further adulteration of the food supply to “fix” a non existent problem. I sincerely hoped that I was wrong, but alas, it turns out that I was correct. Frankly the title was a dead giveaway. Scientists created “a cow that carries a transgenic construct that knocks down the expression of a gene that encodes one of the major allergens found in milk.” How “major” is this allergen? It turns out that “between two and three percent of infants born every year” are impacted.
So the hope of all of this high tech gene manipulation is that it “might make milk a viable option for more people, provided that doing so has no ill effects on the cows.”
Here is a crazy idea. If you experience an allergic reaction to something, listen to your body and don’t eat the offending substance.
What is astounding about this article is the inability of such researchers to take evolutionary biology seriously. Humans evolved to consume milk from humans, not cows. There is no better food for infants than mother’s milk. If people are able to tolerate cows milk, meaning that they don’t have a prompt adverse reaction after consumption, then they will have to decided if there are other substances in cows milk that may be harmful.
Personally, I am lactose intolerant, so this is not an issue for me. Before I discovered the paleolithic lifestyle, I did drink lactaid milk. However, I am deeply suspicious about the effects of casein, the main protein in milk from cows. This is a point of contention that generates good arguments pro and con among those knowledgeable about paleo eating. My reasoning against consuming milk is that a large percentage of the world is lactose intolerant. Thus those who are not, are clearly a late adaptation. In the paleo environment, humans could not have milked animals. This would have occurred after animal husbandry had been discovered. My rule of thumb is to err on the side of safety by avoiding all dairy products. Even if I am wrong in that they are not harmful, I am not missing out on any essential nutrients that I can’t obtain elsewhere.
The take away from my reaction to this article is: listen to your body, take evolutionary biology seriously, and if in doubt, don’t eat it.