Tuesday, October 2, 2012

GMO Hypoallergenic Milk Looks HYPERallergenic to Me!

I just saw this article posted by the Facebook pages of both Allergic Child and A Gift of Miles:

Here is a quote from the article: (my emphasis added in bold)

This special calf, conceived through genetic modification and cloning, produces milk that contains no detectable levels of beta-lactoglobulin (BLG), the protein that is believed to trigger allergic reactions.

What's more, the hypoallergenic milk from this calf appears to be even more nutritious than regular cow's milk, as it contains double the amount of the healthy milk proteins known as caseins.
(Updated 10/3 after my head cleared a bit from the initial shock.  Thanks to the author of  the blog End Eczema for reminding me that BLG is the main protein in whey.)
This looks like sheer madness to me.  They mention the protein (BLG) that they "believe" triggers allergic reactions.  (BLG is the main protein in whey.)  Well, we KNOW that CASEIN causes allergic reactions!!  So, why in the world would you go and DOUBLE the amount of the deadly protein (to those with milk protein allergies) in your new, supposedly "hypoallergenic" new milk?  I am completely flabbergasted.

Allow me to share my daughter's blood test results from the component testing I had done.  On the List of Allergies page, I have the following:

Alpha-lactalbumin: 1.55 kUA/L
Beta-lactoglobulin: 6.48 kUA/L
Casein:                59.10 kUA/L

Cheddar Cheese:  18.50 kUA/L
Whey:                  18.20 kUA/L

The PPV for milk is 15, not that we need that, since we have various confirmed reactions, including a trip to the ER to confirm that allergy.
So, there you can see the IgE values for the BLG, which is only 6.48 versus the 59.10 for casein.  Which one do you think concerns me more?  To me, that new "hypoallergenic" milk might as well be napalm, if it has twice the amount of casein proteins in it.

Though I appreciate the intent, in trying to produce a "safe" cow's milk, it appears that they have, instead, reduced the protein that I was less concerned about and doubled the one most dangerous to my daughter.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I don't want that kind of milk out in the world, making every other milk-containing product that much more dangerous for my daughter to be around.

I would love for an allergist's opinion on this subject.  How can they reduce one allergen, while doubling another that is already known to cause anaphylaxis?  I just don't see how that is supposed to help.

Edited to Add: Here is another link, shared by The Eczema Company, on this developing story:

The more I read, the less I like...Also, this second article mentions that we don't even need do this kind of thing to remove BLG from milk.  I once had a notion in my mind that perhaps GMOs might serve a good purpose for helping those of us in the allergy community, but this is not a good example.  That poor cow has no tail and they don't know why!


  1. Just to clarify--I skimmed the original journal article, which doesn't make the claim that "genetically modified cow may hold answer for milk allergy" --that is CNN's spin. The authors acknowledge that BLG is only one of several milk allergens. (BLG is apparently the major allergen in whey.)

  2. Oops, you are right, BLG is a component of whey. I'll take that sentence out. (I wonder what all is in the "whey" that they tested my daughter for, in her component testing, since they tested BLG, separately?)

    Even so, it seems to me like they would just be making it slightly safer for one group and much more dangerous for another group. CNN needs to seriously reconsider their "spin" on this development and the researchers need to seriously reconsider their development!

  3. You know, I think there is a typical phenomenon going on here. This GMO cow is a legitimate step on the way to true hypoallergenic milk (well, assuming that they can come up with an nonallergenic casein or a replacement). But what most likely happened was that the press office at the researchers' institution hyped the results to the media. And outlets like CNN thrive on hype. The outcome is that people like you get disappointed, which is a shame. Your reaction is valid and you ought to write to the scientists.

  4. Yes, I will readily admit that I allowed my emotions to be manipulated by the media on this issue. I usually don't even write posts on issues within the first day of reading about an issue, for that very reason. I agree that CNN and basically all media thrive on hype, and I, by having had a conniption fit, am playing right into their hands, especially considering that this cow has not even produced one drop of milk, yet.

    However, I do not think we need to even pursue this avenue of research. Why do we need cow's milk, at all? I think we need to step back and consider a complete paradigm shift.

    Since that will not happen any time soon, yes, I should write to the researchers and remind them that there is an entire population of individuals with life-threatening casein allergies who must be considered in their efforts.

    I should know better, though, that the researchers are probably sitting at home, thinking, "That's not what we intended! We're not done, yet!" However, the media has taken their initial discovery and run off with it.