The current climate challenge is pushing scientists to find innovative solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among these emissions, emissions from livestock farming are particularly subject, as they represent a significant portion of global emissions. News of the year? Canadian cows could soon emit less methane thanks to genetics.
A major climate issue
Globally, Livestock farming is responsible for approximately 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. Among these gases, methane occupies a prominent place. Why ? Because it has a greenhouse effect that is twenty-five times greater than that of carbon dioxide (CO2). The main source of methane in livestock comes from the digestive processincluding belching and flatulence.
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This technology would save up to 1,800 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
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Canadian innovation: modified bull sperm
Ben Lowith, a Canadian dairy farmer, is at the forefront of this initiative. He started vaccinating his cows Genetically modified semen to reduce methane emissions. This advance is the result of a collaboration between genetics company Semex and Canadian milk monitoring agency Lactanet.
The potential is impressive: a 1.5% annual reduction in methane emissions from Canadian dairy production is expected. The long-term, This decline may reach between 20 and 30% by 2050.
Years of research to get a tangible result
This is not a pilot experiment. This feat is based on seven years of research conducted jointly by the Universities of Guelph and Alberta. This work led to the world’s first genomic assessment of methane. The researchers measured methane emissions directly from the cattle’s breath, then compared this data with genetic information.
Using this information, it is now possible to determine how much methane an animal can produce based on its genes. This is an important step forward in understanding methane emissions in the agricultural sector.
A promising future but with challenges to overcome
Although this method has many advantages, it also raises concerns. Some dairy experts question the long-term effects of genetic modification, noting that it may cause digestive problems in cattle.
However, the climate emergency requires exploring all possible ways to reduce emissions. As companies like Nestlé and Burger King begin to pay attention to the issue, this initiative is likely to gain popularity.
As the world desperately searches for ways to limit climate change, genetic modification of livestock could offer a partial but important solution. Only time will tell if this method is viable in the long term.
Source de l'article : https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/climate-friendly-cows-bred-belch-less-methane-2023-08-08/
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