Scientists to Reprogram Cow Guts to Cut Emissions

Scientists to Reprogram Cow Guts to Cut Emissions

As the methane emission problem mounts, researchers look to feeding cows unnatural diets to control flatulence.


A recent feature on technology outlet Wired examined bioengineering solutions currently being developed to address the methane emission problem of the beef and dairy industries—which, according to the United Nations, produce more greenhouse gas than all of transportation combined. Around the world, scientists are testing seaweed, genetically-modified grass, and enzyme binder 3-nitrooxypropyl to be used as feed additives to control methane outputs. These additions are being developed to essentially rewire the inner-workings of cow stomachs to reduce the animal’s desire to burp and fart. Most cows within the animal agriculture industry are already forced to consume diets of corn and soy—since they are cheaper to produce—instead of grass, the animal’s natural diet. While farmers look for solutions to the environmental disaster created by animal agriculture—other ideas have included the purchase of $500 million methane digesters and utilization of “Fart Packs,” or a methane-trapping device strapped onto a cow, that’s similar to a backpack—several dairy farmers in California have found that a profitable endeavor is to abandon dairy farming in favor of cultivating almond groves, a move that has led to 10,000 fewer dairy cows in the state.

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