'Super Grass' to Reduce Methane Emissions From Belching Cows

Researchers say they're able to genetically modify the grass for easier digestion
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2016 2:59 PM CDT
'Super Grass' to Reduce Methane Emissions from Belching Cows
In this March 11, 2009 file photo, Holstein dairy cows feed through a fence at a farm outside Jerome, Idaho. Belching from the nation's 170 million cattle, sheep and pigs produces about one-quarter of the methane released in the US each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.   (AP Photo/Charlie Litchfield, FILE)

The grass is about to get greener thanks to DNA technology out of Denmark. Researchers say they've genetically modified a "super grass" that is easier on cow's stomachs, thereby helping them digest the grass more easily and thus belch out less methane gas, reports the BBC. (No, farting isn't the problem, as some mistakenly believe.) "It is simply a better diet for the cow, which can utilize the feed more efficiently and therefore doesn't release as much methane when it burps," says Torben Asp of Aarhus University's Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics.

What's more, by being easier to digest, the grass is likely to help improve milk production, too. Denmark's’ environment minister Esben Lunde Larsen tells Berlingske that it's "a good example of future sustainable food production, in which there is a contradiction between growth and climate, but production goes hand in hand with nature." The US Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that agricultural methane emissions could jump 60% by the year 2030, much of it attributable to the world's 1.5 billion cows, reports the Independent. Denmark's genetically-modified grass is expected to be ready for mass production by 2024. (Check out what's behind this methane hot spot in the US.)

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