Impact of Technical Progress in Milk Production, The

Klaus Frohberg
March 1988  [88-WP 27]

Advances in biotechnology research soon will become applicable to milk production. The gene responsible for production on the bovine Growth Hormone (bGH) has been isolated and transferred to ordinary bacteria cells by applying gene splicing techniques (Miller et al. 1980). The hormone is a naturally occurring protein produced by dairy cattle that regulates the volume of milk production. Although the functioning of bGH is not fully understood, injecting supplemental quantities into dairy cows results in additional milk production. Laboratory research has achieved production increases of up to 40 percent (Bauman et al. 1982). Response time following the injection is relatively short: production responses typically occur within two to three days.

Given the strong potential for a substantial increase in dairy cow productivity, private firms are preparing for commercial production of bGH. Marketing this hormone, however, usually requires approval by the regulating agencies responsible for food safety. Since the hormone occurs naturally in dairy cattle, regulatory approval of bGH should not be difficult. It is expected that the hormone will be available for commercial use in the United States by 1989.

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