March 24, 2023


Chief of T'Sou-ke First Nation, Canada, defends proposal for turning seaweed into additive for cattle feed




The chief of the T'Sou-ke First Nation in Canada, Gordon Planes, said a proposal to develop a process for turning seaweed into an additive for cattle feed will not harm the environment.


Synergraze Sustainable Agriculture and T'Sou-ke Nation partnered last year to produce Synergraze, a feed additive that prevents cows from belching methane. The partners said the land-based seaweed aquaculture facility in East Sooke could help Canada meet its emissions targets.


Synergraze producers added that their product could reduce methane production by up to 90%.


However, the programme faced criticism from environmental advocates, including Al Wickheim, director of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, who cited a lack of consistent information from the proponent.


The type of seaweed to be used has been a concern, as Asparagopsis, a species of red algae that thrives in warm water and is highly effective in stopping cow belching, has been considered an invasive species. Asparagopsis is not on the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' marine invasive species list.


Planes said Synergraze would not use Asparagopsis but instead use local Pacific ocean seaweed.


"T'Sou-ke First Nation would not allow nor participate in anything that would be detrimental to our environment," Planes said. "The entire reason we are partners with Synergraze is that we want to help Mother Earth."


According to a Capital Regional District report, the use of marine algae to reduce methane emissions from cattle is gaining prominence worldwide. It is moving to the pilot stage of commercialisation. A cursory literature review indicates that only the red algae Asparagopsis is used.


Research indicated that Asparagopsis contain secondary metabolites called brominated halogenated compounds that stop animals with rumens from emitting methane.


Synergraze will use a combination of Pacific seaweed to produce its product, but which ones are being kept secret, Planes said.


"We are not going to divulge the specific species publicly, nor the exact location where it can be found, as that is part of our proprietary information and needs to be protected," Planes said.

- Victoria News

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