Methane Vaccine – The Vegan View

We were approached by Mediaworks radio to comment on the news that over $10 million are being put into research towards a methane vaccine for cows. Obviously, our viewpoint is that there should not be this many cows anyway. Not only is the dairy industry an inherently cruel one, it is also highly polluting and methane emissions are just a small part of the problem.

Our first question was how does this vaccine affect the cows? Apparently, the microbes that make all this methane are not a huge part of the cow’s digestive system, they are “just along for the ride” as it were. The vaccine produces an antigen in the cow’s saliva, that then passes down to the microbes, which then stop producing the methane.

Although this may reduce the methane produced by cows and reduce agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, it does nothing to prevent the pollution of our waterways and all the attendant problems that has, including many people not having potable water.

Their first question was what do we think the money could have been better spent on? The $10 million question! So many things, for sure, but if the dairy industry truly wants to be more environmentally friendly, then planting natives on farmland, would be a better use of $10 million and would help the greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution.

The main problem is that NZ is heading ever more quickly towards intensive dairying and there are simply too many cows for the pastures and they are being grazed in places that are deeply unsuited to them. 

Reducing the dairy herds over time whilst supporting and allowing farmers to increase their diversity should be the main focus of agriculture. Not continually tinkering with the genetics of cows, or giving them vaccines, putting money into research to keep afloat this sunset industry.

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