Herman The Bull

Herman the Bull was the first genetically modified or transgenic bovine in the world. The publication of Herman’s creation caused an ethical storm.

At the early embryo stage, Herman was genetically engineered within a laboratory by Gen Pharm International of Mountain View, California. Scientists microinjected cells with the human gene coding for lactoferrin. The Dutch Parliament changed law in December of 1992 to enable Herman to reproduce. Eight calves were born in 1994 following a breeding program established at Gen Pharm’s European laboratory Pharming Group N. V in Leiden, the Netherlands. All of the calves inherited the lactoferrin production gene. With following sirings, Herman fathered a total of 55 calves.

Dutch law demanded he be slaughtered at the conclusion of his role within the experiment. The Dutch Agriculture Minister at the time, Jozias van Aartsen, agree, however, to a pardon, provided Herman did not have more offspring, after public and scientists rallied to his defense.

Together, with the cloned cows named Belle and Holly, he lived out his retirement at Naturalis, the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden. Herman the Bull was one of the oldest bulls ever within the Netherlands.

On April 2, 2004, Herman was euthanized by vets from the University of Utrecht due to him suffering badly from osteoarthritis.

Herman the Bull’s hide has been preserved and mounted by taxidermists; since February 15, 2008, Herman is permanently on display in Naturalis. According to Naturalis, the symbolic value of having Herman the Bull is that he represents the onset of a new era in the way man deals with nature, an icon of scientific progress, and the subsequent public discussion of these problems.

Image Caption: Bull Herman (Lelystad, 16 December 1990 – Leiden, 2 April 2004), the first non human mammal with human DNA and first genetically engineered animal on exibit in the National Museum of Natural History ‘Naturalis’ in Leiden, the Netherlands. Credit: Peter Maas/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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