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Japanese Researchers Discover Method to Stop Cattle from Emitting Methane

Last modified March 31, 2009 09:53

A research team led by Professor Junichi Takahashi at Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine has discovered that cattle developing nitrite poisoning do not release methane by belching.

Source: Japan for Sustainability

 

A research team led by Professor Junichi Takahashi at Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine has discovered that cattle developing nitrite poisoning do not release methane by belching. They also found that feed containing nitrate and cysteine is effective in both reducing methane production in cattle and preventing them from developing nitrite poisoning. Cysteine is an amino-acid found in hair and is used as a food additive and in cosmetics to lighten skin.

When nitrate is converted into nitrite by microorganisms in the rumen -- part of a cow's digestive system -- a large amount of hydrogen is consumed, and thus there is little hydrogen left to convert carbon dioxide into methane. Meanwhile, cysteine inhibits the production of nitrite to the extent that all the nitrite produced is converted into ammonia, and thus nitrite toxicity in cattle is prevented.

This study, which was started in 1993, has revealed a mechanism to inhibit methane production using many laboratory ruminants such as cattle and sheep. In addition to this feed method, other safe and effective methods to inhibit methane production have also been developed.

Methane contributes to about five percent of the world's greenhouse gases, and its reduction is expected to be effective in countering global warming. But such a feed is not likely to sell in Japan right now, because there is no carbon tax system there that can inhibit global warming, nor any subsidy system that can promote efforts against global warming.

 

Thus, animal feed companies are hesitating to develop and market this kind of feed, although Professor Takahashi says that the feed developed by his research group can be used overseas through the international emissions trading system.

http://www.obihiro.ac.jp/~ggaa/presymposium.html

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