Work is under way to better understand the role of milk components and their benefits. Known as milk genomics, the study will allow researchers to go beyond understanding that milk is beneficial and challenge them to discover exactly how and why that’s true. This knowledge will eventually lead to new dairy products.

You’ve heard of the human genomic project. Now, scientists at University of California-Davis have teamed up with their counterparts in New Zealand, Australia, France, Ireland, Canada, Switzerland and the Netherlands to build data banks containing the genes from milk, or milk genomics. Their goal is to better understand the nutritional benefits of milk, as well as the function of the different milk components.

The plan is to use this information to help expand dairy product development so that future products can be tailored to meet consumer health and nutritional desires. Eventually, milk researchers could modify the composition of raw cow’s milk to add value based on the conclusions derived from this genetic research — like how milk moderates blood pressure or helps contribute to proper weight maintenance.