Feed additive against global warming
The methane emissions of farm animals contribute significantly to global warming. DSM is now bringing to market a feed additive that significantly reduces methane emissions from cows. Just one teaspoon per cow is expected to reduce emissions by up to 90 percent. The product is manufactured by a company based in Valais.
Tuesday, March 22, 2022
Agriculture accounts for around 40 percent of global methane emissions. Livestock farming in particular produces huge quantities of methane. Intestinal gases, for example from cows, have a massive impact on the climate when they are released into the atmosphere. As reported by the "Walliser Bote", the Dutch company Royal DSM has developed an innovative feed additive that reduces methane emissions from cows by 30-90 percent. The product called "Bovaer" is based on the compound 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) and is manufactured by the Valais-based company "Valsynthese" on behalf of DSM in Gamsen for introduction to the global market.
Effective Methane Reduction
Bovaer has already been approved in many countries, including Brazil and Chile, and since March 2022 has also been approved in the EU. Approval for Switzerland is expected to take place soon. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) commissioned a scientific study on the effectiveness of the feed additive in relation to methane emission reductions. A positive result was obtained in November 2021. The study confirmed that Bovaer effectively reduces methane emissions from dairy cows. According to EFSA, the feed additive in the recommended maximum quantities is harmless to the health of both cows and consumers.
Harmless to humans and animals
Swiss authorities also come to the same conclusion. Michael Schmidhalter of the Visp Agricultural Center says to the "Walliser Bote": "This feed additive is therefore harmless to humans and animals, provided the precautions for use are observed." Also, the performance of the cows does not suffer from the feed additive. The available studies are promising. The biggest problem with Bovaer will be the application by farmers. For them, the product means additional financial and labor costs. According to Schmidhalter, policy makers will have to think about appropriate incentive systems.
Despite all the optimism: Bovaer, too, will not be able to completely solve the methane problem in agriculture. The demand for meat is expected to double by 2050, also in view of global population growth. Therefore, the biggest lever is still a meat-reduced diet, as proposed by the EAT-Lancet Commission, for example. It demands a "planetary health diet" with less meat, but more fruit, vegetables and pulses. But we must not pretend: "The culture of non-consumption in Europe is growing, but is at a low level in relation to a world population that first wants to enjoy meat. That is why we will see a further increase in meat consumption globally for many years to come." says Bayer CEO Werner Baumann in an interview with "NZZ".
In addition to conscious dietary changes for those who can afford alternative proteins, technical innovation will therefore also be central to a more sustainable livestock sector. Or again in the words of Werner Baumann in said interview: Today, we can see how relevant agriculture is when it comes to preventing the current threat of famine as best we can. In the long term, the ability to innovate is crucial so that we can feed up to 10 billion people in a sustainable way.
Walliser Bote, 18 March 2022 (print)
It is essential that society has confidence in research. Only in this way can it realise its maximum potential and ultimately overcome social challenges such as climate change or a pandemic. But there are also critical voices: Some of the Swiss population has little or no trust in science. Four experts debated how research can gain people's trust at an «NZZ Live» panel discussion.
Vegetable producers are currently struggling. The reason for this is the lack of crop protection products . It is becoming increasingly difficult to bring saleable products onto the market. Some farmers are even reaching their limits to such an extent that they have had to stop growing certain vegetable varieties.
Fruit, berry and wine growing is increasingly threatened by pests such as the Japanese beetle, the spotted wing drosophila and the Mediterranean fruit fly. Producers are sounding the alarm – but there is a lack of pesticides that can put an end to the pests.
The high number of plant protection treatments is a major challenge for organic farmers. One of them is apple grower Marco Messerli from Kirchdorf BE. He has had to treat susceptible apple varieties with organic pesticides a total of 48 times. Too much, he thinks, and is now calling for the authorisation of new breeding methods. Experts agree with him.