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July 15, 2019 10:19 am

Israeli Researchers Discover Gene Manipulation Method to Help Reduce Cow Flatulence and Its Impact on Global Climate Change

avatar by Adi Pick / CTech

Israeli cowboys collect a herd of cattle to separate the bulls from the females, at their farms in Northern Israel. June 12, 2018. Photo: Maor Kinsbursky/Flash90.

CTech – As the Earth approaches the point of no return in terms of global warming, some countries are banning plastic straws or disposable tableware, while researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), together with a team from Scotland’s University of Aberdeen, have found a new way to reduce emissions: manipulating cow genes. Cow genes can be used to control microbiomes in cattle’s digestive tract, or more specifically the rumen, in order to control the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted by cows, the researchers said in a statement.

With every cow fart or burp, methane gas is released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide. While each individual excretion of cow gas may seem inconsequential, there are more than 1.4 billion cows in the world today according to the UN, so each little burp adds up. The US Environmental Protection Agency states that approximately 25 percent of methane emissions in the US come from cows.

The researchers have identified a group of genetically inherited microbes located in a cow’s gut that help cows digest their food and is responsible for the production of methane. The researchers believe it is possible to reduce global methane emissions by selectively breeding cows that naturally have less of the methane-producing microbe.

The study, published earlier this month, examined more than 1,000 cows from Italy, the UK, Finland, and Sweden.

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