Animal rights activists have rebuked the Prince of Wales for awarding a prize to an ‘inhumane’ and ‘medieval-looking’ device, designed to neutralise methane in cows’ breath.
The device, developed by UK company ZELP, is a mask that supposedly fits ‘comfortably’ around a cow’s head without restricting its movement or feeding.
As the cow exhales, methane travels through a catalyst where it’s oxidized, then released into the air as CO2 and water vapour instead of harmful greenhouse gas.
It has been named as one of four winners of The Prince of Wales’ inaugural Terra Carta Design Lab, which recognises innovative design solutions to the climate crisis.
However, animal rights organisation PETA argues that this invention doesn’t help cows who suffer every day for the meat and dairy industries, and the real change lies in vegan farming.
The Prince of Wales was given a demonstration of the face mask for cattle at the opening of an exhibition showcasing the Terra Carta Design Lab projects
The ZELP mask supposedly fits ‘comfortably’ around a cow’s head without restricting its movement or feeding
Swapping meat and dairy for INSECT protein could reduce global warming by over 80%
Swapping animal products for future foods such as insect protein or cultured milk could reduce global warming, water and land use by over 80 per cent, a new study suggests.
Researchers used computer modelling to find the optimal diet combination to meet nutritional needs, while also minimising global warming potential, water and land use.
They found that if people in Europe replaced meat and dairy with foods produced through new technologies, such as making fake steak out of bovine cells, it could significantly reduce all environmental impacts.
Not only that, but it would be nutritionally adequate and meet the constraints for what can be feasibly consumed, according to experts at the University of Helsinki.
‘You might write it off as a cruel joke, but it’s real: forcing cows, who already pay dearly for human tastes, to wear thick plastic face masks,’ PETA Director Elisa Allen told MailOnline.
‘The Prince of Wales should be royally ashamed to give this medieval-looking device an award instead of condemning it with at least the force he reserves for modern architecture.
‘The creators of this inhumane contraption claim it is “comfortable”, but that’s akin to calling meat, eggs, and dairy “gifts to the environment” when they cause it inarguable harm.
‘The last thing our society needs is to inflict more suffering on animals, when what is needed is a rapid retreat from cruel and environmentally damaging animal agriculture.’
She added that research shows consumption of cows, lambs, and pigs needs to drop by 90 per cent to avert the worst effects of the climate catastrophe.
‘Our future king should home in on vegan farming initiatives, which actually help animals, human arteries, and the planet,’ she said.
‘If there ever was a case of the emperor’s new clothes, this is it.’
Lindsay Duncan, farming campaign manager at World Animal Protection, added: ‘These quick fixes do not address the root of the problem, which is we consume too many animal products to be sustainable.
‘Despite designers stating that these masks do not restrict the eating or breathing of the animal, it could still affect their natural behaviour and comfort while performing these activities.
‘We should be focusing on reducing animal consumption, switching to sustainable alternatives and ensuring all farmed animals have the best life possible.’
As the cow exhales, methane travels through a catalyst where it’s oxidized, then released into the air as CO2 and water vapour instead of harmful greenhouse gas
The Prince of Wales was given a demonstration of the face mask for cattle at the opening of an exhibition showcasing the Terra Carta Design Lab projects yesterday.
He met the device’s inventor Francisco Norris, who explained the how the Zelp – Zero Emissions Livestock Project – fitted comfortably around the animal’s head and does not interfere with its day to day activities.
‘It doesn’t stop them breathing?’ the fascinated prince, himself a farmer and environmentalist, asked.
‘No, it just sits on top,’ Mr Norris explained.
He told Charles research has shown the harness does not affect cows’ breathing or eating, and their milk production, which is tested twice daily, doesn’t slow down either.
Tests also showed the harness ensured a 53 per cent reduction in methane emissions – the company is working on improving its efficiency to 60 per cent next year.
‘And it reduced the methane produced by their belching,’ Charles marvelled ‘Fascinating.’
Zelp says around 95 per cent of the methane from cattle is expelled via exhalations and belching of cows – not flatulence, as is commonly believed.
It says ‘neutralising methane emissions is the single fastest way to stop climate change’.
Mr Norris told Charles commercial production is due to begin in 2023.
The ZELP mask was one of four winning designs by students and alumni of the Royal College of Art who took part in the Terra Carta Design Lab competition.
The mask was one of four winning designs by students and alumni of the Royal College of Art who took part in a competition held at the Terra Carta Design Lab. The prince toured the exhibition in London showcasing 20 finalists.
The Lab was founded by Prince Charles and RCA chancellor Sir Jony Ive.
Other winners include a device that captures rubber particles shed by car tyres, aerodynamic nutrient and seed pods made from food waste, and ‘the first 100 per cent recyclable and chemical-free outdoor performance textile’.
Each winner received £50k funding and mentoring from Sir Jony Ive, who was formerly chief design officer at Apple, and the corporate members of the prince’s SMI network.
‘I can’t tell you how proud I am to be associated with the Royal College of Art, particularly as a result of seeing the remarkable ideas presented by many of them alumni and existing students,’ the prince said in an off the cuff speech.
‘May I say that it is critical because of the urgency we face in terms of the crisis confronting us in all directions and just how important is what their ideas represent in terms of finding solutions rapidly.
‘I can only hope as a result of this and drawing a bit more attention to what you are doing that we will have a better chance of winning this battle in shorter time. I can only wish you every possible success.’
THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF FARMING COWS
The livestock animals are notorious for creating large amounts of methane, which is a major contributor to global warming.
Each of the farm animals produces the equivalent of three tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and the amount of the animals is increasing with the growing need to feed a booming population.
Methane is one of the most potent greenhouse gases, trapping 30 times more heat than the same amount of carbon dioxide.
Scientists are investigating how feeding them various diets can make cattle more climate-friendly.
They believe feeding seaweed to dairy cows may help and are also using a herb-rich foodstuff called the Lindhof sample.
Researchers found a cow’s methane emissions were reduced by more than 30 per cent when they ate ocean algae.
In research conducted by the University of California, in August, small amounts of it were mixed into the animals’ feed and sweetened with molasses to disguise the salty taste.
As a result, methane emissions dropped by almost a third.
‘I was extremely surprised when I saw the results,’ said Professor Ermias Kebreab, the animal scientist who led the study.
‘I wasn’t expecting it to be that dramatic with a small amount of seaweed.’
The team now plans to conduct a further six-month study of a seaweed-infused diet in beef cattle, starting this month.