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2020 science (V0260)

New science is leading to new breakthroughs in agriculture and health.

New science is leading to new breakthroughs in agriculture - with spin-offs for human health!
This clip was produced by AgResearch.

Transcript

Narrator: The human genome has been completed, and now scientists are closing in on the bovine genome. What’s discovered will help us produce much better animals - animals resistant to diseases like facial eczema, sheep that produce more lambs, and animals whose meat tastes better.

Dr. Theresa Wilson (AgResearch): I think that we’ll be using DNA technologies in all sorts of different ways in the farm systems.

I think we’ll be developing drafting strategies where we’ll be able to predict an animal’s performance, and how it’s likely to perform throughout the whole lifecycle of the animal – how many lambs or beef it will produce, how much meat it will produce, how tender the meat will be.

All those sorts of things we’ll be able to predict, and this will be able to change farming systems radically.

Narrator: One future for dairy farms may be no fences. Animals could have microchips in their ears, linked to a micro-control system surrounding the farm. The whole farm could be computer-controlled, with the chips in the animals relaying information about their health to satellites, which send that information to the farm’s computer. The computer could track, for instance, how much milk a cow produces, how much greenhouse gas it emits, and decide how to treat each cow best.

Animal research will also help human health. For instance, scientists are working out how to get cows to produce human proteins in their milk. That milk would have specific proteins that can be used to help fight bacterial infections and some diseases, like Hepatitis C.

Dr. David Wells (AgResearch): Firstly, we would isolate the particular human DNA sequence that codes for the protein to treat the particular human disease or disorder, and introduce that human DNA sequence into the chromosome within the nucleus of a cow cell that is growing within the laboratory. Then we would use the process of nuclear transfer to generate a transgenic calf from that genetically modified cell.

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