- by: AAP
- From:Herald Sun
- March 28, 20129:15AM
First there was reduced-fat milk ... and soon there could be reduced-fart cows. Picture: Thinkstock / Source: Supplied
GENETICALLY modifying cows so they burp and fart less - that's one of 40 initiatives to reduce emissions being considered by the cattle and sheep industry.
Researchers are investigating the merits of selective breeding to alter the genetic makeup of certain breeds of cows and sheep.
The new breeds would produce less methane in a bid to reduce the impact of farming on the environment.
The research is part of 100 initiatives, dubbed Target100, aimed at delivering sustainable cattle and sheep farming by 2020.
Environmentalist Tim Flannery, who has signed on as the face of the initiative, says sustainability is vital for the long-term survival of the farming industry.
"Our impact on the environment can be very severe in the agricultural and grazing sectors," he said before the launch of Target100.
"We know historically some of the disasters that have happened, species lost, soil degradation and water degradation and so on."
But limiting the flatulent expulsion of methane gases not only has a positive impact on the environment, but also increases productivity of the animals.
"Methane is a waste," Mr Flannery said.
"The energy that the cows produce in methane, could have got into producing meat."
Some individual cows in a herd would produce less methane than others, meaning producers could breed from those and produce a less methane-rich herd.
"It's just like you would do if you had some cows that produced more meat and less bone. Farmers have been doing that for years," he said.
"All they're doing is turning their attention to methane."
Almost half of the 100 initiatives to improve sustainability in farming deal with gas emissions, and include investigating the development of microbes that will help suppress methane production, finding bacteria to metabolise methane and better managing manure.
Another platform of the project is giving consumers an opportunity to learn more about how their beef and lamb is produced.
"Australian cattle and sheep farmers are caretakers of nearly half Australia's landmass and their profitability depends upon the health of the land," chef Justin North said.
"They are natural environmentalists who want to leave the land in better condition for future generations."
People can go to www.target100.com.au to ask questions, receive regular updates, voice their opinions and get simple tips on being more sustainable at home.
Australia , at the cutting edge of a fart less world .