Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Reducing farm animals methane production

The easiest way to reduce climate change gases in the atmosphere is for all humans to become vegan. That is pretty much a very simple and painless way to reduce global warming gases. Obviously this is not going to happen, so scientists are working on ways to make cows and sheep produce less methane. Did you know that a quarter of all the methane produced by human activity comes from farm animals?

There are differing approaches to this problem around the world. In Germany for example, scientists at Hohenheim University have developed a plant-based pill that is combined with a special diet to reduce the methane cows produce by converting it to glucose. In New Zealand and the UK, the approach taken is to get farmers to grow different types of grass that have high levels of sugar. This diet of sugar rich grass changes the way bacteria in the animals’ stomachs break down plant material into waste gas. The problem with this type of grass is that it is more difficult to grow, so scientists are trying to make a genetically modified version which is hoped will be easier to grow. Which in effect is getting GM crops into the food chain through the back door.

The obvious answer to this particular methane gas problem is for people to stop eating meat and dairy products. The complex and expensive answer is to change the animals diet with pills and GM feed. Guess which one is more likely to happen?

[Via The Guardian]

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