It turns out that burping can be big business. Billionaire Bill Gates has announced an investment in Australian startup Rumin8, which is developing seaweed-based feed to reduce methane emissions produced by cows. by burping them and to a lesser extent, farts.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. While it lives in the atmosphere for a shorter period of time than carbon dioxide, it has 84 times More global warming potential over a 20-year period. almost third Of the global methane emissions come from livestock, mostly beef and dairy cattle.
Microbes in the stomachs of cows produce methane as the animals digest food, but when seaweed is added to their feed, it has been shown to significantly reduce the amount of the planet-warming gas emitted. A 2021 study found that giving cows small amounts of seaweed over a period of several months led to lower methane emissions. by more than 80%.
Rumin8 feed additive is produced from the bioactive ingredient found in red seaweed (Asparagopsis). The company said lab trials showed the additive could reduce up to 95% of methane emissions.
Instead of growing the seaweed, the company recreates the ingredient in a lab, which means costs can be kept relatively low. The additive goes into the cow’s feed and the company also aims to produce it in capsule form.
A spokesperson for Gates’ fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which The investment led to $12 million Tour, he told CNN: “Although cows are important [greenhouse gas] source, livestock farming remains one of the cheapest sources of protein globally, which means that technologies that can reduce emissions from the current livestock supply chain today and in the future are critical.”
Rumin8 said it has additional investment from two climate funds and aims to have small amounts of food available commercially by the end of the year.
One criticism leveled at solutions such as methane-reducing feed additives is that they can distract from addressing the root causes of the climate problem for livestock, including the vast amount of land needed to raise animals and grow crops for their feed.
Rumin8 CEO David Messina said cows remained an important source of protein for billions. “Our solution is global and will provide developed and developing countries alike with a methane-reducing product that will have a tremendous impact on global emissions in agriculture,” he told CNN by email.
Some countries are exploring legislation to reduce methane emissions from livestock. In October, the New Zealand government announced Plans to tax farmers To burp their animals, to motivate them to reduce emissions.