Cattle genes may give clues about human health
Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:24pm BST
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Scientists have created the first genetic blueprint of domestic cattle, saying on Thursday the map may lead to tastier beef, better milk and even new insights about human health.
The Hereford cow's is the first mapped livestock animal sequence, and the researchers think it will help explain how cattle evolved, why they ended up with a four-chambered stomach, and why they almost never get cancer.
"Having the genome sequence is now the window to understanding how these changes occurred," said Harris Lewin of the University of Illinois, who worked on the research published in two reports in the journal Science.
They discovered the cattle genome contains at least 22,000 genes, 80 percent of which are shared with humans. And the team found that cattle have far more in common genetically with humans than do mice or rats, and might make better subjects for studying human health.
Comparisons of the domestic cattle genome sequence to those of the human, dog, mouse, rat, opossum and platypus reveal new insights about the human genome. Read More
This is really exciting news. Technology, like being able to genetically modify livestock, is going to allow us to improve our food supply beyond what we can imagine today. There is no doubt about that. The big question will be whether or not the consuming public will be able to understand how the technology works, why we need it and then give the social license to utilize it. At some point, consumers will need to realize that there are consequences to their opinions on how food is raised.