Bill Gates’ ‘Super Cow’
Most well-known for co-founding software and computer giant Microsoft, Bill Gates is undoubtedly one of the most successful men of our time. Now, having conquered the digital world, Gates is turning his interest instead to the physical world and how he can help improve the future of the planet.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is the Gates’ vehicle for funding aid programmes and research in sectors ranging from control of diseases (including Malaria, HIV and Polio), agricultural research, sanitation and nutrition.
The latest investment from the foundation looks to help alleviate famine, pestilence, poverty and reduce the carbon footprint from livestock with the creation of a new breed of ‘super’ cows. The foundation has invested US$40m into Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines, a charitable company based in Edinburgh which is researching vaccinations and genetics for livestock.
The concept works around creating ‘hardier’ bovines that can not only withstand living in more challenging climates, but can also produce more milk. Gates believes that if we could genetically engineer cows to produce more, we can tackle global famine and poverty whilst also trying to limit the effects of climate change by reducing the amount of ‘inferior’ cows, and therefore the amount of greenhouse gases produced.
Gates commented on the subject, "If you care about the poor, you should care about agriculture. And if you care about agriculture, you care about livestock, what that means in this context is helping poor farmers get as much as possible out of their animals."
The goal from the team behind the research is to increase milk production fourfold, thereby generating more milk which can offer the population a higher protein diet as well as increasing wealth in poverty stricken areas.
Gates said: "Chickens in Africa typically lay a couple of eggs, but if you give them the right breeding stock you could get that up to 10 to 12. Likewise in milk, the difference is even greater. The kind of cash that a household can earn, the amount of extra protein to improve their diets - this is very important to poorer families in Africa."
With urbanisation, population growth and climate change all threatening the future of the planet, it is crucial that people like Bill & Melinda Gates continue to try and find innovative answers to the world’s most pressing issues.