University team applies genetic tracking system to breed ‘low-carbon’ cow

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SEOUL — Fertilizing beef cattle feed produces emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas produced by microbes. Cows spit large amounts of heat-trapping methane. As a result, beef causes far more emissions than most other foods. Various solutions have been studied to reduce the carbon footprint of beef and dairy cattle.

A research team led by Lee Hak-gyo, a professor of animal life engineering at Jeonbuk National University, has acquired a method to distinguish “low-carbon cow” with a system that tracks and predicts carbon footprints of cows with voluminous genetic information.


Lee, who runs Melliens, a teacher startup, analyzed the genetic information and traits of 20,000 low-carbon calves out of 500,000 cows over a decade with a genome-based beef tracking platform. The carbon footprint needed to produce one kilogram of beef with low-carbon cows was 8.9 kg, compared to 25.5 kg for regular beef.

Genetic information can be checked during the calving period to select excellent breeding stock, the university said, adding that genetic traits can be passed on to future generations through selection and improvement, leading to personalized selection. low carbon emissions and a sustainable reduction of the carbon footprint.

The amount of greenhouse gases generated in South Korea’s livestock sector rose from 5.8 million tons in 1990 to 9.4 million tons in 2018, according to Jeonbuk National University. “We will contribute to human society by striving to become an enterprise operating a global carbon-neutral convergence platform for animal husbandry through industrialization, not just research,” Lee said in a statement on Tuesday. May 20.

Concord Ventures, an investment bank based near Seattle, participated in Lee’s project. Concord Ventures CEO Salim Dada said the project will make a positive and active contribution to global livestock carbon neutrality.


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