Sunday, February 5, 2023

Bill Gates backs a startup that fights cow belching and gas

(CNN) — It turns out that burping can be big business. Billionaire Bill Gates announced investment in start up Australian Rumin8, which developed seaweed-based feed to reduce methane emissions produced by cows through belching and, to a lesser extent, their gases.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. Although its lifetime in the atmosphere is shorter than that of carbon dioxide, its global warming potential is 84 times greater in 20 years. About a third of global methane emissions come from livestock, with the bulk coming from dairy and beef cows.

Microbes in the stomachs of cows produce methane when the animals digest their food, but when seaweed is added to their food, it has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of the planet-warming gas. A 2021 study found that feeding small amounts of seaweed to cows for several months reduced their methane emissions by more than 80%.

Rumin8 manufactures a feed additive from bioactive constituents of red algae (Asparagopsis). According to the company, laboratory tests have shown that the additive can reduce methane emissions by up to 95%.

Instead of growing algae, the company reproduces the ingredient in a lab, keeping costs relatively low. The additive is added to cow feed, and the company intends to produce it in capsule form.

A spokesman for Gates’ fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which led the $12 million investment round, told CNN: “Although cows are a major source [de gases de efecto invernadero]Livestock is one of the cheapest sources of protein globally, which means that technologies that can reduce emissions from the existing livestock supply chain today and into the future are critical.”

Rumin8 said they have more investment than two climate funds and aim to commercially dispose of small amounts of food by the end of the year.

One criticism leveled at solutions such as methane-reducing feed additives is that they may distract from the root causes of the livestock climate problem, which include the enormous amount of land needed to raise animals and grow crops for food.

David Messina, CEO of Rumin8, said that cows are an important source of protein for billions of people. “Our solution is global and will provide a methane-reducing product to both developed and developing countries, which will have a huge impact on global emissions from agriculture,” he told CNN via email.

Some countries are studying laws to reduce methane emissions from livestock. In October, the New Zealand government announced plans to tax farmers for the burp of their livestock, encouraging them to reduce emissions.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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