Thursday, June 25, 2009

Friendlier Cow Burps. Old News? Good News? No News at All?

Okay, so I'm reading today and I see an article that I could swear I heard about on NPR months and months ago. (Does this ever happen to you? Reporters act like something is a new thing, when in reality it's old news?) Could it be deja vu?

This particular article is about the fact that belching cows hold a suffocating 75% of the world's methane. This isn't news. We all knew that, or at least that's what we're told.

This makes me question. This makes me wonder, how exactly do they know this? I mean really. How are they measuring this. Is it a guess? Are they sure they didn't "test" a cow or two with some really bad indigestion due to onion grass overindulgence? Or what if the cows felt like they were being watched, making them nervous, therefor more apt to belch? Did you watch their test? Did you ask questions? Did they have a good control group?

And just who exactly are THEY and who do they take their orders from? Who's bribing them? Who's calling the shots?

PETA? Are they behind this? You'd think they'd be smarter about that; cows don't take birth control and the only other alternative is to neuter or spay (costly, and inhumane - to me anyway, though not to them I'm sure), or to slaughter them (I'm really thinking they would not like this route.)

Or is it the people who are behind the veggie burgers and turkey franks and soy milks that are behind this study? They'd like that, wouldn't they. Poo poo the cows and there's millions to be made! Mooohoooahhahahahah!

Okay, so now we move on.

The article was on more than just methane cow burps. It went on to talk about a new(?) idea. Scientist are now breeding eco-friendly cows. According to this article, this means, "cows that produce 25% less methane than less efficient cows."

Than less efficient cows? So 25% less than the queens of belching? What does this really do? I say it simply balances things out. What, so now we'll have more "normal" cows? It's not dropping anything to 50% from 75% necessarily. And how did they go about doing this? And what about the mutated cows that are born each day? The ones with 5 stomachs instead of 4? I'm sure they're out there. How do we know they're not? How do we know they're not the super belchers?

So now ranchers are being asked to breed cows that grow faster so they don't spend as much time being alive. The faster they grow, the shorter a life they can have. (Sweet) Please, like this is going to help anything. I can see the hunger in the farmers eyes. No less cows will be on the face of this earth at one given moment. I can see this going the way of a lot more cows for a lot more profit.

"Another method already being used to reduce methane emissions is feeding livestock a diet higher in energy and rich in edible oils, which ferment less than grass or low-quality feed." This shortens their time to market, in other words gets them fatter sooner. Well this is awesome if you like fatty steaks. No lean beef for me, thanks. If I were a slaughterer, I'd feel like I got milked in the eye over this one; cut a cow open, expect to find some nice meat only to find.... fat!

It seems to me scientists are making fools of themselves again, and you have to wonder where their principles lie. And if you ask me, this is no news at all.

To read the article that humored me so much this morning, got to

So what are your thoughts?

Thanks for reading, and see you in the comments.

Gorgeous photo above courtesy of National Geographic blog at


Bill Zuback said...

My guess is that the scientists you speak about are probably being funded in part by some kind of special interest group.

One of my past interns did her senior photo exhibition on corporate milking farms vs family owned farms. The disparity between the two operations is huge and sad. Before the corporate farms knew of her intent she had already captured some very troubling images.

In the case of the methane it's easier to blame global warming issues on someone other than ourselves?

Frieda Babbley said...

You know, I felt rather passionate about this when I wrote it. Then after I calmed down a bit and faught with the computer to get the formatting right (which as you can see was a lost battle as only the first half worked out) I re read and thought, boy, am I going to get a lot of crap for this. People are going to think I'm not "green".

So I really thank you for your comment. It really is a totally different ball game when it comes to corporate farms vs family owned farms. And I do question the interest groups that fund these scientists with "bright" (gag) ideas.

And yeah, it's MUCH easier to blame others. For example, the trash I put out or forget to put out every week is contributing gobs in one way or another, I'm sure. I cringe to think of all the things I must do, unknowingly.

Thanks for the comment, Bill.

Frieda Babbley said...

Aha! Finally fixed the formatting. I had to take the picture out and then put it back in.

JamaGenie said...

Frieda, it's not your imagination - belching cows *is* old news. I read it months ago in the BBC or NY Times. My reaction was same as yours: How the heck can they measure it??

I don't think you're "not green"! Part of green is allowing living things to live **naturally**. There's nothing "natural" about pumping cows with growth accelerators, or special diets to lower the methane level so a corporate feed lot won't smell quite so bad.

Anybody checked the methane levels at a packed baseball stadium lately? The gas from all those chili dogs and beer has to go somewhere...

Frieda Babbley said...

Hah! Thank you JamaGenie. Absolutely. And the question is now, HOW exactly are they going to find out. I suppose everyone gets fitted with horse feed bags? Or perhaps dropdown tubes with masks for between bite times. Do "toots" count as well?

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