February 1, 2023

Bill Gates backs start-up tackling cow burps and farts

2 min read


It turns out that burps can be big business. Billionaire Bill Gates has announced an investment in Australian startup Romain8, which is developing seaweed-based feed to reduce methane emissions from cows. Through their burps And, to a lesser extent, farts.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. While it remains low in the atmosphere compared to carbon dioxide, it has 84 times Greater global warming potential over a 20-year period. About one third Global methane emissions come from livestock and mostly from beef and dairy cows.

Microbes in cows’ stomachs produce methane as the animals digest food, but when seaweed is added to their diet, it significantly reduces the amount of the planet-warming gas. A 2021 study found that feeding small amounts of seaweed to cows over several months reduced their methane emissions. More than 80 percent.

Rumin8 produces a feed additive from a bioactive ingredient found in red seaweed (Asparagopsis). Lab trials show the additive can reduce methane emissions by up to 95 percent, the company said.

Instead of cultivating seaweed, the company is recreating the ingredients in a laboratory, which it says can keep costs relatively low. The supplement goes into cow feed and the company plans to produce it in capsule form as well.

A spokesman for Gates’ fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, said: Led a $12 million investment. Round told CNN: “The cow is an important thing though. [greenhouse gas] Source, livestock agriculture is one of the cheapest sources of protein globally, which means that technologies that can reduce emissions from existing livestock supply chains are important today and in the future.

Romain8 said it has further investment from two climate funds and aims to have small quantities of food commercially available by the end of the year.

One criticism that has been leveled at solutions such as methane-reducing feed additives is that they can divert attention from addressing the root causes of the livestock climate problem, including raising and feeding animals. Large amount of land required to grow crops.

David Messina, CEO of Rumin8, said cows remain an important source of protein for billions. “Our solution is global and will provide both developed and developing countries with methane-reducing products that will have a huge impact on global emissions in agriculture,” he told CNN via email.

Some countries are introducing legislation to reduce methane emissions from livestock. In October, the New Zealand government announced A plan to tax farmers For their animal husbandry, to incentivize them to reduce emissions.

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