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World tackles peril of the bovine burps

Save the planet – stop cows burping. Unlikely as that sounds, it's a serious scientific mission.

Cattle around the world produce huge amounts of methane, a powerful gas, which accounts for about a fifth of the greenhouse effect.

The methane cows belch out every day floats into the stratosphere to join carbon dioxide and other gases holding in the Sun's reflected heat and causing the Earth's temperature to soar, with potentially disastrous effects. But researchers at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen say they are close to producing a bovine belch-inhibitor.

It is a combination of sugars and a novel oxidising bacterium. The scientists believe that, when added to cows' feed, the new substance might reduce the gaseous emissions substantially.

Let's hope so. Bad breath is one thing. Wrecking the atmosphere for us all is another.