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Cow Methane

June 9, 2009

Geneticists say cattle can be bred to be more environmentally friendly.


Cattle and climate change…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Methane is a greenhouse gas twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide. And it turns out that burping cows are responsible for most of it. That’s why geneticist Stephen Moore of the University of Alberta and colleagues are looking for ways to make cows less gassy. They’ve found that certain cows can eat less, yet grow as much as other cows. And according to Moore, they also belch out up to 25 percent less methane.

STEPHEN MOORE (University of Alberta):
So you can actually breed animals that are more efficient and produce less methane. And then if you optimize both the feed and the animal, of course, you get a double whammy, in the reduction of the amount of methane that animal will be producing.

Moore and colleagues are now trying to identify the genes involved in making these cattle more environmentally friendly. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.