- The Plate
Genetically-Modified Cattle May Help Reshape African Farms
With one gene, molecular geneticist Steve Kemp may someday be able to boost the success of small farms across a huge swath of central Africa.
The gene is from a baboon, and it’s important because it produces a protein that kills a diabolical protozoan called Trypanosoma brucei. Trypanosoma brucei causes a deadly wasting disease–trypanomiasis–in both cattle and humans. Now stick with me, here’s where it gets interesting:
That protozoan, called a trypanosome, is the reason one-third of the African continent–an area the size of the United States–is almost completely prevented from keeping livestock. That’s because the tse-tse fly, the trypanosome’s preferred method of transportation, lives there. Where flies can infect cattle, cattle usually can’t survive.
The implications of animal-free farming in the developing world are enormous. For starters, there’s