A Gassy Problem!

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So you know how everyone is trying to reduce greenhouse gases, right? There maybe one rather ingenious solution!

Ready? Stop livestock from burping and farting! 

Excuse me! That’s rude!

No no, my friend, it is the truth! Reports say that livestock produce 14-18% of all greenhouse gases, especially methane (CH4, not an environmentally-friendly gas), with their belching and other bodily functions!

Ok gross. Tell me more. 

Research is being done into the gut microbes and bacteria that live in the stomachs of animals like cows and sheep. When they feed on grass in field, many nutrients and other things get absorbed, but methane does not and gets belched or expelled out. However, research published in the Journal of Cleaner Production showed that cows that were fed a particular seaweed, Asparagopsis, produce only a third of the methane as compared to those on a non-seaweed diet. 

Seaweed?? That’s a far cry from grass.

Maybe but luckily the animals don’t seem to have very refined palates and happily munched on whatever they were fed. 

A 30% cut in er, ’emissions’ is fantastic! So let them eat it by the gallon!

A few hitches, though. The methane-reducing effect of the seaweed is caused by a compound called bromoform which can be added to their feed, but more trials are needed to be sure it is absolutely safe. Also, you need a large amount of seaweed which could be grown, but again, the effects of that need further investigation. 

But you said it yourself; it could be a good solution. 

Yup for sure. One that is definitely worth more research. But in the meantime, when you pass by an animal farm, hold your nose! 


Written by: Pereena Lamba. Pereena is a freelance writer, editor and creative consultant. She is also co-author of Totally Mumbai.

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