Biotechnology is looking to find ways to add value to milk – New Zealand’s “white gold”.
New Zealand already makes millions of dollars out of milk every year. Scientists are looking to increase the profit margins for dairy farmers and the organisations involved in the dairy industry.
A1 and A2 milk
A1 and A2 refer to a type of protein, called casein, that is found in milk. Most cows’ milk contains both A1 and A2 proteins. It has been suggested that drinking milk containing the A1 protein may increase the risk of developing certain health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and mental illness. Therefore, milk containing only the A2 protein could be of value, and biotechnology is being used to identify cows that produce milk containing only the A2 protein.
Get information sheet: A1 or A2?
Milk and colostrum (the first milk produced by a mum just after they have given birth) are especially designed to convey disease-protecting proteins from a mother to her offspring. Cows’ milk and colostrum contains proteins that will protect their calves against cow diseases.
At AgResearch, they are studying whether cows can be manipulated to produce proteins in their milk that would protect against human pathogens. This hyper-immune milk could be made into a lozenge or gum and used to prevent or treat human illnesses.
Get information sheet: Hyper-immune milk
Milk contains six main proteins, some of which are useful for treating disease and potentially worth a lot of money. However, most of these proteins are damaged during milk storage and processing. If the high-value proteins could be collected straight after milking, more good-quality protein could be extracted, and farmers could make more money from the same amount of milk.
Get information sheet: Extracting milk proteins
- 16 November 2007