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  • (dreamy music)

  • This is Bertie.

  • He might look like any other cow,

  • but there's one little thing about him

  • that sets him apart from his breed.

  • Bertie has never grown a pair of horns.

  • And that wasn't a fluke of nature.

  • Parts of his DNA were rewritten by this man.

  • Using new tools in gene editing,

  • scientists like him are gaining unprecedented control

  • over the fate of all living things.

  • As technology replaces old jobs,

  • it's also creating new ones.

  • I'm Aki Ito, and I'm here

  • to show you the jobs of the future.

  • (upbeat music)

  • My name is Dan Carlson and I'm a gene editor.

  • Buckle up.

  • The field is changing almost by the day,

  • so new innovations, new techniques, gene-editing technology,

  • it's just gonna improve our lives in a number of ways.

  • Dan works for a biotech startup called Recombinetics

  • here in St. Paul, Minnesota.

  • So this is the embryology lab.

  • He's tackling a problem

  • that's plagued farmers for generations.

  • Most dairy cattle are born with horns,

  • which they can use to hurt each other

  • and their human handlers.

  • Because of that, worldwide, farmers remove horns

  • from millions of dairy calves each year.

  • It's a painful and distressing process for the animals.

  • Dan wants cows to be born hornless

  • and hopes to eliminate the practice of dehorning altogether.

  • What we can do on this microscope here is take the cells

  • that we've engineered and create embryos out of those.

  • (playful music)

  • You might think of Dan as some kind

  • of mad scientist,

  • but he's really the most wholesome guy you could imagine.

  • He's an excellent maker of hamburgers.

  • Which one do you want, Ethan?

  • I want the tastiest one.

  • He's a husband to this lovely woman.

  • You have to eat some of your pizza, bud.

  • And a dad to three adorable kids.

  • Lilly, do you know what your dad does at work every day?

  • He works.

  • He works?

  • Do you know what he does?

  • He kills pigs?

  • I do what?

  • To be clear, one of Dan's other projects

  • involves editing the genes of pigs.

  • In case you were wondering.

  • (tranquil guitar music)

  • Dan's passion for farm animals stems

  • from his childhood growing up on this farm.

  • It's run by his dad, who has a very fitting name.

  • This farm here is where my dad started out farming.

  • I never dreamt that Dan would be a scientist.

  • In high school, it was the time

  • where the genetically modified crops

  • were beginning to be planted.

  • And my dad was one of the early adopters.

  • You could see the difference in the crops immediately.

  • They were taller.

  • They didn't have any problems standing up.

  • And from that moment on,

  • I was like this technology is for real.

  • It can really make a difference.

  • Gene editing themselves is kind of science fiction to me,

  • but I'm very proud of the work that Dan does.

  • I think they were hungry.

  • For Darwin, dehorning cattle has always been

  • his least favorite part of the job.

  • When they get their horns cut off, they holler like crazy,

  • so you know that it ain't a comfortable thing

  • that's happening to them.

  • There are cows that naturally never grow horns,

  • but they're usually used for beef.

  • They can't produce enough milk for dairy farmers.

  • So six years ago, Dan started working

  • on developing hornless dairy cattle.

  • I was interested in trying to solve some

  • of the problems that my dad encountered.

  • Using a gene-editing tool

  • that was discovered less than a decade ago,

  • Dan's team took a dairy cow's cell,

  • cut out the genetic segment that makes the animal grow horns

  • and then swapped in a sequence found

  • in some beef cattle that makes them hornless.

  • Next, his team created an embryo from the edited cell

  • and inserted it into a surrogate mother.

  • Then, they waited for nine nerve-racking months.

  • You're expecting it to come out without any horns

  • or horn buds but you just don't know.

  • Bertie, the world's first cow to be gene edited

  • for hornlessness was born in 2015 in Iowa.

  • Shortly after, he was transferred here

  • to the University of California at Davis.

  • He's incredibly strong.

  • I can see why it would be dangerous to have horns on him.

  • No, that's right.

  • They kind of use their head as their defense.

  • It's natural for them to do that,

  • and obviously when you have a 1,500 pound animal

  • moving his head around like that,

  • it doesn't take much to do some pretty significant damage.

  • Bertie became a dad to six calves in the fall.

  • All of them inherited their father's lack of horns,

  • and one of them happens to be female.

  • In a few years, she's gonna be old enough to produce milk,

  • which scientists are planning to examine.

  • Nolan, do you like cows?

  • I love them.

  • I love their babies the most.

  • Who likes yogurt?

  • Who likes milk shakes?

  • Me.

  • Would you let your kids drink the milk

  • of a gene-edited cow?

  • Of course. Yeah?

  • Yeah. You wouldn't be--

  • I would purposely buy it if it was on the market.

  • Biologists are now pouring

  • into the field of gene editing,

  • coming out with new applications at dizzying speeds.

  • If it all goes according to plan,

  • much of it will change our lives for the better.

  • But will there be unintended consequences?

  • And how much tinkering with nature is too much?

  • Oh, you're getting some kisses.

  • Our answers will shape the future

  • of Dan's profession.

  • Whether this strain of animals takes off,

  • it's really up to the government and public acceptance.

  • I can't go a lot about those things.

  • I just gotta do my job.

(dreamy music)

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B1 dan gene dairy bertie editing cattle

The Dairy Scientist Saving Cows From Pain

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/07
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