China to make protein from carbon monoxide to feed farm animals

Two men in white disposable protective suits taking samples of pigs
Local workers collect blood samples at a pig farm in Zhangye, Gansu province, China, October 2019. Source: Reuters

Chinese researchers have found a way to create food for farm animals from carbon monoxide, according to a report on Sunday on a website run by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The world’s biggest buyer of soybeans is China, which imports around 100 million metric tonnes a year for use in its huge animal agriculture industry. Soybean farmland is created by burning down parts of the Amazon rainforest.

China wants to replace those soybeans with synthetically made protein.

The Feed Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) worked with Beijing Shoulang Biological Technology to develop a single cell protein from gas fermentation that can be fed to animals.

The protein produced from carbon monoxide has been approved to feed to animals by the agriculture ministry, the report said.

Around ten other start-ups around the world are also using synthetic biology to create protein-rich animal feed. Britain’s Deep Branch aims to turn carbon dioxide emitted by a power station into protein for fish, chickens, geese, turkey and ducks.

United States-based Calysta has partnered with major agricultural trader Cargill on a 200,000-tonne single cell protein plant in Tennessee.

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