Scientists Are Developing Grass That Stop Cows From Burping

Researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark are inventing a grass that is easier for cows to digest, meaning less methane is released into the environment.
13 October 2016, 3:41pm

Just in case you didn't know, those pulled beef nachos with extra cheese are pretty much ruining the environment. Y'know, because of that whole thing about cattle-rearing being one of the biggest drains on land and water use in the world.

In fact, cows emit so much methane gas, which is 23 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, that their flatulence can blow up sheds.

READ MORE: Scientists Want to Fight Cow Burps and Farts with Oregano

But scientists in Denmark could now have a solution to the problem of gassy cows: super grass.

No, not the nineties rock band. Researchers from Aarhus University announced last week that they were developing a grass that is easier for cows to digest, making them burp less and reducing methane emissions. According to the press release, by altering the grass DNA and making it "less stiff," cows will have an easier time digesting their fodder and produce less of the harmful gas.

Scientists predict that not only will the grass help combat the two billion tonnes of methane currently produced worldwide by cattle, it could also increase milk production, because the cows will need less energy for digestion.

Torben Asp, a researcher involved in the project from the university's Department of Molecular and Genetics, told Danish newspaper Berlingske that fodder is the key: "It is simply a better diet for the cow, which can utilise the feed more efficiently and therefore doesn't release as much methane when it burps."

READ MORE: Cattle Farmers Are Fighting Climate Change With Fart-Collecting Backpacks for Cows

It's not the first time scientists have tried to control bovine gas issues through diet. Researchers have experimented with adding sugar and oregano into cattle feed but so far nothing has efficiently stopped emissions while also maintaining milk production. Some farmers have gone as far as to try to capture cow farts with a _Ghostbusters_-style backpack.

Perhaps the easiest solution is a zero-methane lab-grown steak, after all.