A new feed additive intended to reduce methane emissions from enteric fermentation of dairy cows has been considered efficacious by the EU’s food safety agency (EFSA).
On Friday (19 November), the EFSA’s panel (FEEDAP), providing scientific advice on the efficacy of additives and products or substances used in animal feed, released an opinion on the product Bovaer developed by the Dutch company DSM.
The feed additive aims at suppressing the enzyme that triggers methane production in a cow’s rumen. According to the DSM, the additive reduces enteric methane emissions by approximately 30% for dairy cows and 90% for beef cows.
A scientific assessment on the product was requested by the European Commission, which asked EFSA if the additive is working in reducing methane emissions for dairy cows.
The FEEDAP panel concluded that the additive is efficacious in reducing methane emissions by dairy cows under the proposed conditions of use. This conclusion was extended to all other ruminants for milk production and reproduction.
According to EFSA, Bovaer is also safe for dairy cows at the maximum recommended level, adding that using the additive under the proposed conditions is of no concern for consumer safety and the environment.
The EFSA scientific risk assessment is done independently from the risk management, which includes authorisation of substances, products, claims, or processes placed on the European Union market.
This means that European Commission and EU member states will decide whether to approve the product and the conditions of use in the coming months.
The product has already received the regulatory go-ahead for marketing from the Brazilian and Chinese authorities.
This is the first EFSA scientific assessment of a feed additive intended to reduce methane emissions of beef which has become particularly problematic in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG).
Methane is a GHG that, despite being short-lived, has more heat-trapping power than carbon dioxide, trapping 84 times more heat over 20 years.
Enteric fermentation – gassy emissions from ruminant animals such as dairy and beef cattle – is considered the most significant source of methane in terms of human-related activities.
A first global commitment to cut methane emissions by at least 30% below 2020 levels by 2030 was launched during the very first days of the UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow.
The initiative was led by the US and the EU, which gathered other 103 countries that combined account for 46% of global methane emissions and represent 70% of the world economy. They included several cattle-rich countries like Brazil, Canada, Argentina, and New Zealand.
However, some countries with high methane emissions opted to remain out from the commitment, including China, India, Australia, and Russia.
Science and technology can help deliver the cut by supporting innovative feed ingredients that minimise methane emissions from enteric fermentation.
The global pledge also focuses on technical measures such as animal feed supplements which, according to the UN, can cut emissions in the sector by 20% a year until 2030.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]