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Rob Kelly of CS-IRO
describes how the vaccine works
 real 28k

Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Fresh blow to global warming
sheep
Australia's sheep face winds of change
Scientists in Australia plan to vaccinate millions of sheep and cattle to reduce the amount of harmful methane gas they emit - a significant factor in global warming.

The experts describe methane as a greenhouse gas more potent that carbon dioxide, and say farm animals produce a lot of it.


Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, around 21% more potent in greenhouse terms than carbon dioxide

Rob Kelly, CSIRO

About 600,000 sheep and 400,000 cattle have been signed up to test the vaccine, which inhibits some of the organisms which inhabit animal digestive systems.

Commercial production of the vaccine - which took 10 years to develop - could begin as early as 2005.

Scientist Rob Kelly, head of the Australian Government's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), told the BBC the vaccine would not stop burping and flatulence in sheep and cattle.

But it will reduce the methane content of the emissions by about 20%, Mr Kelly said. That should make a significant reduction in Australia's contribution to global warming.

Methane accounts for 14% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions and 50% of New Zealand's, Mr Kelly said.

Australia's 114 million sheep and 27 million cattle produce methane emissions equivalent to 60 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

"Our goal is to have one million cattle and two million sheep available for vaccination every year from around 2005 to 2012," Mr Kelly said.

"If we can reduce methane we can also reduce the effects of global warming," he added.

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See also:

05 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
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