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Cow Control

In the US, bovine growth hormone has been used to increase milk yields for 15 years, and many consumers are starting to reject hormone-treated milk in favor of organic. But dairy farmers point out that when cows make more milk, fewer cows are needed, thus reducing a major impact on global warming.

Researchers have discovered that, compared to a non-supplemented population, giving rbST to one million cows would enable the same amount of milk to be produced using 157,000 fewer cows. The nutrient savings would be 491,000 metric tons of corn, 158,000 metric tons of soybeans, and total feedstuffs would be reduced by 2,300,000 metric tons. Producers could reduce cropland use by 219,000 hectares and reduce 2.3 million tons of soil erosion annually.

In 2007, there were 9.2 million cows in the United States. For every one million cows supplemented with rbST, the world would see an environmental saving of 824 million kilograms of carbon dioxide, 41 million kilograms of methane and 96,000 kilograms of nitrous oxide. For every one million cows supplemented with rbST, the reduction in the carbon footprint is equivalent to removing approximately 400,000 family cars from the road or planting 300 million trees.

Researcher Judith L. Capper says, "Supplementing cows with rbST on an industry-wide scale would improve sustainability and reduce the dairy industry?s contribution to water acidification, algal growth, and global warming."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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