Row over cow settled by DNA tests

The cow in question

A woman in the southern Indian state of Kerala is set to win a court battle to keep a cow after DNA tests proved it belongs to her, her lawyer says…The woman, TS Sashilekha, had been accused by her neighbour Geetha of stealing the animal.

The acrimonious dispute even saw the cow in question appear in court.

It is thought to be the first time an ownership battle over an animal has been decided by DNA tests in India, where Hindus consider cows to be holy.

The legal battle between the two women began last year when Geetha claimed that a cow in her herd was the mother of the disputed animal…But DNA tests ordered by the court did not match, meaning that Sashilekha will get to keep the cow.

…N Chandra Babu, lawyer for Sashilekha, told the BBC, “It is a rare case and possibly the first of its kind in history. Perhaps this is the first time a DNA test was held on a cow to find out its real owner.”

After the disputed cow was produced in court, Sashilekha was allowed to keep it in her possession – but only after paying 45,000 rupees in securities.

I understand why the court would ask the eventual victor to provide security presumably covering the value of the cow. Hopefully, returned without charges. Another good reason why she is suing the accuser for costs and compensation.

Brazilian man killed by 1½ ton cow falling through the roof of his bedroom

Killed by falling cow

A Brazilian man has died after a 1.5 tonne cow crashed through his roof as he slept in bed with his wife.

Joao Maria de Souza, 45, was killed by the animal, which narrowly missed his wife, as he slept at his home in the town of Caratinga on Wednesday.

A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the animal, which was grazing on a hill behind the small house, stepped onto the thin corrugated asbestos roof causing it to immediately give way. The officer said Souza died of internal bleeding at a nearby hospital…

Press reports have also claimed this is the third such incident in the region in just three years – in both previous incident there were no casualties.

How about making it more difficult for cows to step from a hillside onto your roof, eh?

European e.coli outbreak pressures food safety rules in the U.S.

The deadly wave of food-borne illness in Europe, caused by a rare form of E. coli bacteria, could finally push the United States to take long-delayed steps to protect the food supply in this country from a similar group of toxic organisms.

Food-safety advocates hope the federal government will act soon to ban the sale of ground beef if it contains any of six dangerous strains of E. coli that have increasingly been found to cause illness in the United States — a step that regulators have been considering for at least four years in the face of stiff industry opposition.

Considering for four years? That means negotiating with lobbyists for four years.

The outbreak in Europe could also bring more scrutiny of the produce industry. Investigators believe the outbreak was caused by contaminated vegetables, but they have not been able determine which type. So far, the authorities say, more than 1,700 people have been sickened, including 6 Americans, and at least 18 people have died.

For now, the focus in this country is on beef, since E. coli lives in the guts of cows.

In January, the United States Department of Agriculture drafted a much-anticipated proposal to regulate six forms of toxic E. coli in meat, in addition to the most common form, O157:H7, which is already regulated. But the proposal has been stalled at the federal Office of Management and Budget, which typically reviews proposed regulations, and officials could not say when it would be made public.

The details of the proposal have been kept secret until a final version is settled on, but there is wide expectation in the food industry and among food-safety advocates that it would either ban the sale of ground beef containing those strains or call for testing and other controls…

The industry has also often pointed to evidence that illnesses associated with the lesser-known forms of E. coli have tended to be less severe. But the German outbreak is now one of the most severe on record.

“For the people who argued that the non-O157s are not as virulent, they’ve just lost that argument,” said Dr. Richard Raymond, a former head of food safety for the U.S.D.A…

RTFA for more details on e.coli associated with beef – and a bit more info about what may be coming from the FDA next year on new regulations covering produce.

China’s supermarkets will carry “human” milk from cows

Genetically modified dairy products that are similar to human milk will appear on the Chinese market in two years, an expert in biotechnology has predicted.

Li Ning, a scientist from the Chinese Academy of Engineering and director of the State Key Laboratories for AgroBiotechnology at China Agricultural University, said progress in the field is well under way.

Li said Chinese scientists have successfully created a herd of more than 200 cows that is capable of producing milk that contains the characteristics of human milk.

He said the technology is at the cutting edge worldwide and will ensure “healthy protein contained in human milk is affordable for ordinary consumers”…

Human milk contains two kinds of nutrition that can help improve the immune systems and the central nervous systems of children. The components are not available in milk produced by goats or cows.

Li said the scientific world had not previously found a way to mass-produce those ingredients. The GM milk will be as safe to drink as that of the ordinary cows, he added.

The Ministry of Agriculture issued bio-safety examination certificates for the GM herd in March 2010, giving the scientific team a 22-month period during which the technology can be tested in laboratories.

The ministry will then evaluate the results of the tests before deciding whether to allow the milk to be sold.

Interesting. I’d find it more interesting if I drank milk.

I wonder if those of us who are lactose intolerant might not have a problem with the modified stuff.

It’s a panda! It’s a cow! It’s a panda cow!

A rare miniature cow with markings similar to a panda bear was born on a farm in northern Colorado.

The so-called “panda cow” born in Larimer County is thought to be one of only about 24 in the world.

The (Loveland) Reporter-Herald reports the male calf named Ben was born Friday morning. His mother is a Lowline Angus cow…

The miniature panda cow is the result of genetic manipulation. A white belt encircles the animal’s midsection, and the cow has a white face with black ovals around the eyes, giving it a panda-like appearance.

The mini-cattle are bred solely as pets. Farmer Chris Jessen says panda calves can sell for $30,000.

Well, it’s almost a panda – sort of.

Want to cut greenhouse gases? Feed your cows oregano!

Cow belches, a major source of greenhouse gases, could be decreased by an unusual feed supplement developed by a Penn State dairy scientist.

In a series of laboratory experiments and a live animal test, an oregano-based supplement not only decreased methane emissions in dairy cows by 40 percent, but also improved milk production, according to Alexander Hristov, an associate professor of dairy nutrition…

“Cattle are actually a major producer of methane gas and methane is a significant greenhouse gas,” Hristov said. “In fact, worldwide, livestock emits 37 percent of anthropogenic methane.”

Anthropegenic methane is methane produced by human activities, such as agriculture…

Methane production is a natural part of the digestive process of cows and other ruminants, such as bison, sheep and goats. When the cow digests food, bacteria in the rumen, the largest of the four-chambered stomach, break the material down intro nutrients in a fermentation process. Two of the byproducts of this fermentation are carbon dioxide and methane.

Any cut in the methane emissions would be beneficial,” Hristov said.

Experiments revealed another benefit of the gas-reducing supplement. It increased daily milk production by nearly three pounds of milk for each cow during the trials. The researcher anticipated the higher milk productivity from the herd.

“Since methane production is an energy loss for the animal, this isn’t really a surprise,” Hristov said. “If you decrease energy loss, the cows can use that energy for other processes, such as making milk.”

My Italian grandmother always said everything smelled better around the cows she grew up with in the Italian Tyrol. Guess it was the wild oregano in their pastures, eh?

Drink cow urine to cleanse India of foreign influences. WTF?

A hardline Hindu organization, known for its opposition to “corrupting” Western food imports, is planning to launch a new soft drink made from cow’s urine, often seen as sacred in parts of India.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), or National Volunteer Corps, said the bovine beverage is undergoing laboratory tests for the next 2 to 3 months but did not give a specific date for its commercial release…

The organization, which aims to transform India’s secular society and establish the supremacy of a Hindu majority, said it had not decided on a name or a price for the drink.

“Cow urine offers a cure for around 70 to 80 incurable diseases like diabetes. All are curable by cow urine,” Om Prakash, the head of the RSS Cow Protection Department, told Reuters by phone.

Hey, probably better for you than Coca-Cola?

Yup. Fundamentalist religion-types drive me absolutely up a tree. The premise that – if you believe something firmly enough it must be true – must have been limited to nutters even in cave-dwelling times.

If we found a chapter in the Old Testament that supported the cow urine-cure, we’d have most of the politicians in the Bible Belt voting for a subsidy.

Cow farts collected in plastic backpacks for global warming study

Experts said the slow digestive system of cows makes them a key producer of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that gets far less public attention than carbon dioxide.

In a bid to understand the impact of the wind produced by cows on global warming, scientists collected gas from their stomachs in plastic tanks attached to their backs.

The Argentine researchers discovered methane from cows accounts for more than 30 per cent of the country’s total greenhouse emissions…

Scientists are now carrying out trials of new diets designed to improve cows’s digestion and hopefully reduce global warming. Silvia Valtorta, of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Investigations, said that by feeding cows clover and alfalfa instead of grain “you can reduce methane emissions by 25 percent”.

I can think of a few politicians who might advance the cause of science with one of these tanks plugged into their whatchmacallit.