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Bill Gates invests in startup that seeks to control methane emission from cow burps

The Australian startup Rumin8 is developing a dietary supplement that inhibits the production of the methane using red seaweed as a source of synthetic material

January 24, 2023 12:26 pm | Updated January 26, 2023 10:18 am IST

Methane, a greenhouse gas, is produced by livestock as their stomachs break down tough materials like grass for digestion

Methane, a greenhouse gas, is produced by livestock as their stomachs break down tough materials like grass for digestion | Photo Credit: AP

Billionaire Bill Gates will invest in an Australian startup that will work on reducing methane emissions from cow burps. The firm is expected to conduct research on food supplements of livestock to lower methane emissions, which is the highest produced greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide.

Methane is produced by livestock such as cows, goats, and deer as their stomachs break down tough materials like grass for digestion. Methane gas is produced during this fermentation process, most of which is then belched out once more.

The Australian startup Rumin8 is developing a dietary supplement that inhibits the production of the gas using red seaweed as a source of synthetic material.

The company declared in a press release that it had secured $12 million (£9.7 million) in capital from a round of finance spearheaded by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which Mr. Gates established in 2015.

Bill Gates has long advocated on the world’s richest nations to switch from beef to plant-based alternatives in order to combat climate change.

Bill Gates has long advocated on the world’s richest nations to switch from beef to plant-based alternatives in order to combat climate change. | Photo Credit: Reuters

Mr. Gates has long advocated on the world’s richest nations to switch from beef to plant-based alternatives in order to combat climate change.

Mr. Gates describes the steps required to stop greenhouse gas production in his book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster. The billionaire software developer and philanthropist talks about the policy adjustments and technological advancements required to help reduce the most carbon-intensive industries, including steel, cement, and agriculture, where the production of livestock accounts for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions that trap heat and warm the climate.

In a 2021 interview with MIT Technology Review, Bill Gates argued that the world’s richest nations should switch from beef to plant-based alternatives to combat climate change. The co-founder of Microsoft claims that while the “80 poorest countries” still need to consume genuine meat, developed nations should transition to a plant-based diet in the future.

In October 2022, New Zealand’s government proposed taxing the greenhouse gasses that farm animals make from burping and peeing as part of a plan to tackle climate change.

The government said the farm levy would be a world first, and that farmers should be able to recoup the cost by charging more for climate-friendly products. But the plan drew the ire of farmers, who protested the tax.

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