Quantcast

FDA Approves First Waste-Gas-Reduction Drug for Cattle

Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

When we think of dangerous gases emitted by cattle, the logical first thought is of methane, let loose into the air by burps and farts to contribute to climate change. But cattle are complex creatures in their diversity of noxious fumes, and the FDA just approved the first drug to treat a lesser-known one.


Cattle produce ammonia—well, sort of. According to Penn State, it would be more accurate to say that cattle are very inefficient at breaking down nitrogen, which they take in as part of their diet. They pass that nitrogen out mostly in urine, where it's reasonably harmless. But there are enzymes in cattle feces that, when they mix with cattle urine, form ammonia and ammonia is not reasonably harmless. This is a problem at its worst in indoor facilities, especially larger farms and indoor dairy farms, where liquid and solid waste combine on floors.

Aside from the fact that ammonia smells really bad and can be an irritant for humans and animals around it, ammonia can also contribute to something called eutrophication. Eutrophication is the process by which, in this case, ammonia goes into water sources and promotes the mass growth of algae and other organisms, throwing off ecosystems and sometimes choking waterways. Excess of algae on the surface of ponds and lakes can end up killing marine animals.

The FDA this week sent its official approval of a drug called Experior, the first approved drug tasked with reducing gas produced by waste. According to studies conducted by both Elanco, the company that makes Experior, and others, Experior has no known health effects on cattle, with treated cattle showing about the same growth patterns and ailments as non-treated cattle.

There are, of course, other solutions to the ammonia problem. Experior reduces ammonia production by 14 to 18 percent, according to its FDA filing. Great! But other studies have been done in which farmers simply feed their cattle less nitrogen-containing protein—primarily soy—and those studies have shown that simply a better diet can reduce ammonia by up to 40 percent. Experior seems good! But feeding cattle appropriate diets—like grass—might also be good. Or better.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

In tea, food, or just on your windowsill, embrace the fragrance and fantastic healing potential of herbs.

Read More Show Less

By Ana Santos Rutschman

The world of food and drug regulation was rocked earlier this month by the news of a change in leadership at the Food and Drug Administration. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb resigned and will step down in early April. His temporary replacement is Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
MartinPrescott / iStock / Getty Images

On Wednesday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first 20 chemicals it plans to prioritize as "high priority" for assessment under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Given the EPA's record of malfeasance on chemicals policy over the past two years, it is clear that these are chemicals that EPA is prioritizing to ensure that they are not properly evaluated or regulated.

Read More Show Less
Strawberries top the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of U.S. produce most contaminated with pesticides. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP / Getty Images

Which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables in the U.S. are most contaminated with pesticides? That's the question that the Environmental Working Group answers every year with its "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides after being washed or peeled.

Read More Show Less
A drilling rig in a Wyoming natural gas field. William Campbell / Corbis via Getty Images

A U.S. federal judge temporarily blocked oil and gas drilling on 300,000 acres of federal leases in Wyoming Tuesday, arguing that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) "did not sufficiently consider climate change" when auctioning off the land, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Mizina / iStock / Getty Images

By Ryan Raman, MS, RD

Oats are widely regarded as one of the healthiest grains you can eat, as they're packed with many important vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Read More Show Less
JPMorgan Chase building in New York City. Ben Sutherland / CC BY 2.0

By Sharon Kelly

A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.

Read More Show Less
Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability speaking on conflict of interest demand of the People's Demands at a defining action launching the Demands at COP24. Corporate Accountability

By Patti Lynn

2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."

Read More Show Less