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Scientists Seek A Burp-less ‘Cow Of The Future’

From the Financial Times:

Scientists seek climate-friendly cow of the future

By Barney Jopson | April 8, 2014

Washington – A White House climate initiative has boosted a quixotic search for the “cow of the future”, a next-generation creature whose greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by anti-methane pills, burp scanners and gas backpacks.

Carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is the primary man-made gas warming the planet, but methane is far more potent and the US’s biggest source of it is its 88m cattle, which produce more than landfill sites, natural gas leaks or hydraulic fracturing.

In reality, the biggest source of methane in the atmosphere is Gaia herself. (Gaia farts!) Plate tectonics, and the resulting earthquakes and volcanoes — all release far more methane than cows ever could.

The Obama administration’s launch last month of a plan to curb methane emissions has given fresh relevance to climate-friendly technologies for cattle that range from dietary supplements and DNA gut tests to strap-on gas tanks.

Juan Tricarico, director of the Cow of the Future project at the Innovation Center for US Dairy, an Illinois research institute, said the initiative had boosted his quest to create the “star athlete” of the bovine world…

But he said there were common misconceptions about where cattle methane comes from. “Ninety-seven per cent of all the methane gas is released by the front end through burps, not from the back end,” he said.

Based on his research priorities, the dairy cow of the future will be the unstressed inhabitant of spacious accommodation, munching on anti-methane gourmet grains that are processed by an efficient, best-in-species digestive system…

However, financial barriers are hampering the adoption of tools to limit methane from cattle, as was the case with early technology to curb pollution from power stations and motor vehicles. The costs are prohibitive for dairy and beef farmers and the kind of research that could make the tools more cost-effective would require public funding…


At Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology, scientists have created backpacks that collect gas via tubes plugged into cows’ stomachs. A typical animal emits 250-300 litres of methane a day and researchers say this could be used to power a car or a refrigerator for a day, but Jorge Antonio Hilbert of the institute says the tanks’ use on a large scale is “totally improbable”…

You think?

Ilmi Granoff of the Overseas Development Institute said an alternative to controlling cattle emissions would be to cut the number of cows.

“Forget coal, Forget cars. The fastest way to address climate change would be to dramatically reduce the amount of meat people eat,” he said. “But that involves cultural preferences and they are difficult to touch.”

Why worry? Beef is already more expensive than it has ever been in history. Soon nobody will be able to afford it. So there will be no more problem.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Scientists Seek A Burp-less ‘Cow Of The Future’”

  1. GetBackJack says:

    The Stupid is growing stronger every day ..

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