Global warming is a serious issue these days – and there are several contributing factors. Along with man-made pollution and increased production of carbon dioxide, there's another element adding to the greenhouse gases. Cows. Specifically, cow farts.
No, really. One cow can produce 150 to 260 pounds of methane gas a year. And with mass farming of cows and corporate meat production to keep up with consumer demand, more and more cows are farting. Methane gas is even more powerful than carbon dioxide, and it hurts the environment. But, thankfully, a few Canadian heroes thought up a solution to decrease greenhouse gases and reverse climate change by making cow farts less deadly.
It might not seem like much, but even reducing greenhouse emissions slightly could save Earth from total destruction. And, given all the reasons you should care about climate change, that's important.
Canadian Scientists Genetically Engineered A Cow With Less Deadly Farts
Scientists in Canada teamed up with farmers in the country to research cows' genomes. Specifically, they wanted to see if there was a way they could reduce the amount of methane cows release when they fart. The farmers at Sunalta Farms contributed data to the Genome Canada project, and, after eight years, they genetically modified a cow whose farts had less methane in them.
Members of the Genome Canada project took 10,000 cows from several farms and sequenced their DNA. Then, in 2017, Number 1995 was born. The cow is believed to release fewer methane emissions than her brothers and sisters. The scientists tracking Number 1995 are still measuring to what extent her body releases less methane, but they say her genome looks hopeful.
How Much Could This Really Help?
There are an estimated 1.5 billion cows and bulls in the world. Together, they contribute to about 8% of the world's greenhouse emissions. Farming as a whole contributes 18% of the total greenhouse emissions on Earth. Eliminating some of that could mean big changes for Earth.
So, there are essentially two options: reduce meat consumption worldwide – thereby reducing the need for so many cows and farming operations – or evaluate better farming practices that reduce greenhouse emissions. These scientists are taking the latter approach.
The Genome Canada Project Is Also Looking At Better Farming Practices
The Genome Canada project is a partnership between Canada and several other countries, as well as universities and science labs. Its main goal is to reduce the carbon footprint through genetic engineering. One of their areas of focus is producing better agricultural standards that make them more eco-friendly. They're looking at better feeding practices on farms, creating "smarter" animals, and helping transition to reusable energy sources.