We already know that cows have a huge impact on climate change, and we've even looked at ways that meat eaters can reduce their consumption, aside from the obvious options of going vegetarian or vegan. Now we hear from the BBC that scientists from Wales are experimenting with garlic to see if this could reduce flatulence, and the resulting methane (a potent greenhouse gas). We have seen efforts to reduce cow farts before, and if these scientists are successful, this could have a significant impact on climate change:
"Experts claim cows are responsible for about 3% of Britain's greenhouse gases. But initial results from the start of the three-year study show that feed containing garlic could cut the amount of gas produced by up to 50%."
According to the scientists conducting the study, garlic compounds naturally attack the organisms in cow's guts that produce methane. The research is part of a much wider government funded effort to research alternatives feeds and reduce greenhouse emissions related to animal husbandry. Unfortunately it's not all good news — the researchers are yet to determine whether using garlic in this manner will taint the flavor of milk or meat, not so great for those who don't like garlic with their corn flakes.
Of course it goes without saying that flatulence is not the only environmental hazard related to meat and dairy production. As this entry on About.com argues, most animal husbandry is inherently less efficient than vegetable production, in terms of energy expenditure, and there are also issues with water use, compaction, soil erosion and effluent run off. Garlic or no garlic, the vegetarians won't let us (occasional) meat eaters off the hook just yet, and that's before we even start discussing the ethics of killing animals for food! ::BBC::