If you have never seen a Belgian Blue, its appearance may startle you. It’s a breed of cattle which is known for being extremely muscular, with some bulls taking the trait to the extreme. The reason for this extreme muscle development is a mutation in one of the breed’s genes which products what is known as double-muscling. The result is an increase in the number of muscle fibers that develop. This, combined with additional selective breeding has resulted in an animal with an unusually lean and muscular build.
The mutation has been documented as far back as the early 1800′s, but the modern Belgian Blue is the result of intensive selective breeding and inbreeding programs in the 1950′s. The result is a breed of cattle which has a universal tendency toward double-muscling and hence the unusual appearance.
The Blue is prized for its extremely high yield of lean meat. However, the economics of the breed are debatable, as there are a number of complications to raising and keeping the breed. For one, most births are by c-section, as the Blue has difficulty birthing calves naturally. The breed requires more concentrated protein-rich feed and does not do well in all environments. For this reason, the Bengian Blue is not an especially popular breed of cattle, and thus many people are not familiar with them.
It seems that recently the anti-genetic engineering crowd has discovered the Belgian Blue and decided that it would make a great image to promote the evils of science gone too far…
This site, for example, touts the Belgian Blue as “just one example of the limits of Genetically Modified Organisms.”
While others have used pictures of this abnormally muscular cow to describe “GMO Frankencows.” Some sites to mention that the Belgian Blue is the result of a natural mutation, while still calling them GMO’s.
Others label it as “Genetic Modification Gone Wrong.”
Of course, the problem with these claims is that the Belgian Blue is NOT a genetically engineered organism and is only genetically modified through selection ( whether it is natural or artificial) and mutation – the same way all organisms came into existence.
In fact, there are no genetically modified cows currently on the market. Research has been done on genetically modified cows. Some of the reasons for this include creating dairy cows that hypoallergenic milk or which can produce milk naturally fortified in necessary nutrients that normal milk lacks. Such GMO cows could even product milk similar to human breast milk, making them an ideal source of formula for adopted infants or other circumstances where alternatives to breast milk are required. Genetic engineering has also been considered to produce cattle with tastier or leaner meat, disease resistance or greater meat yields.
But, at present, these GMO cattle have not yet reached the dinner table and are not being raised by farmers, at least outside a few research organizations. Any claims to the contrary and simply false.
This entry was posted on Thursday, August 8th, 2013 at 4:52 pm and is filed under Bad Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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