Sometimes it’s hard to have a lot of faith in the FDA– especially in light of recent reports that the Georgia peanut plant at the heart of salmonella-related deaths was home to roaches and other goodies. Well, last week the FDA approved the use of dairy goats by drug manufacturers. The goats are injected with a human hormone that induces their milk to include the protein antithrombin, which is needed by those with certain blood diseases. Drug manufacturers have long harvested antithrombin from human blood and plasma. Obtaining the protein from goat milk will allow Ovation Pharmaceuticals to have it on hand, even if donations are low.

While having an alternative source for the protein is certainly a boon to those who need the drugs, there’s something about it that’s just unpleasant. The goats are a means to an end, and that’s it. The Humane Society has criticized the use of “pharm animals” for that reason. Other safety questions remain, too, such as what might happen if the goats accidentally found their way into the general food supply. It isn’t hard to imagine such a mix-up, especially given the government’s less than 1000 average lately. Just like beautiful tomatoes with fish genes, turning our food into science fiction in this case just might not be worth the benefit.

– Blair Lazarus

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