When thinking of animals used in labs mice, rats and rabbits come to mind most often. However in NZ, around half of the animals used for science are animals used in faming – mostly cattle and sheep.
Goats are also used. In Ruakura, on the outskirts of Hamilton, goats are being genetically modified to produce human proteins in their milk.
In late 2014 AgResearch released some photos of these goats to NZAVS after we made an Official Information Act (OIA) request for any photos of their animal housing.
In 2014, at the time we asked, AgResearch held 241 goats at their facility, 66 of which were classified as transgenic.1
In 2010 they were granted approval to add human DNA to goats, sheep and cows for 20 years.2 The aim of this research is to produce goats that lactate human proteins in their milk. These proteins could then sold to the pharmaceutical industry. The baby goats you see here are nothing but machines for making human proteins to AgResearch.
This research is being done with the aim of producing proteins wanted by the pharmaceutical industry. There are already ways of producing these proteins that don’t require using animals that are being used.3
So, the research is being done to find another way to make a profit out of milk from other species, something New Zealand seems dangerously obsessed with.
As well as goats AgResearch is carrying out similar research on cattle (over 300 animals held as of 2014) and they also have thousands of mice and rats being used for research.