Cows in the UK may be given “methane blockers” in a bid to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, the Guardian reports.
The proposal comes after a consultation launched in August on how new types of feed could reduce methane emissions from cows, which are the main cause of emissions from livestock farming.
The Guardian writes that “farmers have welcomed the proposal” but “green campaigners have been skeptical, arguing that the move will fail to tackle other major environmental harms.
They were caused by cattle breeding and the dairy industry, and the measure showed that it was focusing on “technical solutions” and not on reducing consumption.
The Daily Telegraph adds that the extra cost of feeding methane to cows will increase the price of milk for the average consumer by around 33p a year.
“But the cost could be borne by taxpayers if ministers decide to subsidize meals, or by supermarkets in the form of a greenhouse gas levy,” the newspaper said.
A feed additive that reduces emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane from cattle could be the first of its kind to hit the market in Europe after receiving a positive assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), reported Reuters at the end of 2021.
EFSA found that 3-nitrooxypropanol, called Bover, made by Dutch specialty chemicals company DSM ( DSMN.AS ), reduces emissions in dairy cattle and is safe for cows and consumers who drink their milk.
The EU agency provides scientific opinions on safety and efficacy, which the European Commission decides on together with EU governments.
The manufacturer estimates that emissions are reduced by between 20% and 35% without affecting production and describes Bover as the result of a decade of research.
DSM has yet to market the supplement, despite receiving regulatory approval in Brazil and Chile in September. Since then, it has also signed a development agreement with Brazil’s JBS ( JBSS3.SA ), the world’s largest meat processing company.
The additive works by suppressing enzymes that help break down grass and other fibrous plants, producing methane, which cows release by burping. DSM says its product’s impact on three cows was equivalent to taking a family car off the road (immobilizing it).
Agriculture is the largest source of human-caused methane emissions, at 40 percent, according to the United Nations Environment Program, and the lion’s share of these emissions come from cattle farming.
Photo by Kat Smith: