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The Green Life: Cows, Gas, and Garlic

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June 23, 2009

Cows, Gas, and Garlic

Garlic may reduce cow flatulence The entrepreneurs at Neem Bioteck in Cardiff, Wales, are marketing a new weapon to combat flatulence in livestock: garlic. Methane is at least 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, which means that cow burps are nothing to giggle about. Mootral, a supplement that contains garlic extract, reduces methane by limiting bacterial growth in animals' digestive systems. In two trials run by the company, methane emissions were reduced by 15 percent. The company's expectations of cutting the amount of livestock-produced gas in half may not be unfounded. The initial results of a 2007 study conducted by Welsh researchers indicated a 50 percent decrease in the amount of flatulence found in cows and sheep that were given feed containing garlic. While the outlook is generally positive for the garlic treatment, further research is needed to determine whether the supplements will taint the animals' meat or milk. We're all for reducing methane emissions, but we'd rather not douse our cereal with garlic-flavored milk.

--Della Watson

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