Tackling cow belching

Published: Saturday 30 September 2000

Scientists have developed a new way of tackling global warming by feeding cattle a daily dose of bacteria to stop them belching out methane as they graze. Cows, and to a lesser extent sheep, are responsible for nearly a quarter of the global emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas. Contrary to the popular image of flatulent cows, most of the methane produced is released from their mouths. Scientists had tried to tackle the problem by changing their diet. Now, researchers at Scotland's Rowett Research Institute have found a bacterium that breaks down the methane into hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The institute does not expect consumers to quibble about the additives, which are much like the bacteria-enriched yoghurts people eat to improve their digestion. James Newbold, who is leading the us $406,000 project, is optimistic that the bacterium could cut a cow's methane production by 20 per cent and the uk 's methane emissions by 6 per cent.

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