A feed additive that cuts methane emissions from cattle by potentially a third has been given the green light by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
ESFA has deemed Bovaer safe for cows, and for consumers drinking their milk.
It also confirms that the additive reduces enteric emissions, which is responsible for 60 per cent of emissions during milk production on a burp-by-burp basis.
The manufacturer Royal DSM (DSM), a Dutch speciality chemicals company, argues Bovaer can cut overall emissions by between 20-35 per cent without affecting production
The additive works by suppressing enzymes that help break down grass and other fibrous plants and produce methane that cows belch out.
Bovaer takes effect immediately and is safely broken down in the cow’s normal digestive system into compounds already naturally present in the animal’s stomach.
As soon as the additive is not fed anymore, full methane production resumes and there are no lasting effects in the cow.
DSM says the impact of its product on three cows was the equivalent of taking a family-sized car off the road.
The company is yet to market the additive, but it did receive approval from regulatory authorities in Brazil and Chile in September.
It has since signed a development agreement with Brazil’s JBS, the world’s largest meat processing company.
Agriculture is responsible for 40 per cent of global methane emissions caused by human activity, the largest source in the world, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Livestock accounts for the majority of the methane emissions, with cattle leading the field.
DSM hopes that the EU Commission would approve the product soon.
Ivo Lansbergen, DSM’s president, animal utrition and health, said: “We are hopeful that the European Commission will approve the application with speed so that we can offer a scientifically proven effective answer to the challenge of farming’s methane emissions.”
ESFA’s approval comes at an opportune time for DSM as more than 100 countries agreed at the climate change summit in Glasgow earlier this month to slash methane emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.